Texas school district pulls Toni Morrison classic, the Bible from library shelves  

Morrison's "The Bluest Eye,” and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe were among the 41 books removed from Keller school libraries.

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The day before school started for one Texas school district, librarians were ordered to remove from the shelves 41 books that were challenged by parents, among them “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, and all versions of the Bible. 

In an email to principals obtained by The Texas Tribune, Jennifer Price, executive director of Keller Independent School District’s curriculum and instruction wrote Tuesday, “Attached is a list of all books that were challenged last year. By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms. Please collect these books and store them in a location. (book room, office, etc.)”

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison attends the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner in Chicago in 2010. Her classic book “The Bluest Eye” is among the 41 books pulled from some Texas library shelves. (Photo: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

A Keller school district committee with parents among its membership met last year and recommended that many of the books now on the list remain in its libraries. However, The Tribune report notes that three conservative school board members were elected to the district’s seven-member board since that committee met. They quickly worked to reverse the previous decision.

A political action committee called Patriot Mobile Action raised more than $500,000 to support conservative candidates across the state and challenge books that share the experiences and perspectives of the LGBTQ community and people of color. 

“I feel bad for students who, many of them, the only opportunity they’re going to have to learn about really, really difficult topics is in books,” Laney Hawes, who served on the book committee, told The Tribune. “I feel bad for the most marginalized kids in our school district, the LGBTQ+ kids and also a lot of the kids of color. I’m sad. I’m disheartened and I’m frustrated and I’m angry.”

Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, which works to protect free expression via literature, said in a statement that Keller’s “sweeping attempt to remove these titles from classrooms and libraries on the eve of a new school year is an appalling affront to students’ First Amendment rights. It is virtually impossible to run a school or a library that purges books in response to any complaint from any corner.” 

Students in Keller, a city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, returned to classrooms on Wednesday.

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