St. Louis school district weighs removing books with graphic images, language

Missouri

ST. LOUIS — The Lindbergh School District is conducting a review of whether certain books should be removed from the district’s high school library.  A group of parents wants the district to remove the books, which contain graphic images and vivid descriptions of various sex acts. 

Kristin Gardner is a Lindbergh parent who was surprised when she thumbed through the pages of some of the books. 

“It’s very disturbing,” said Gardner.  

During a recent board of education meeting, some parents who support keeping the books on campus said the materials being challenged disproportionately target minorities, including the LGBTQ community.  

Some of the books being challenged are Crank, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, The Bluest Eye, All Boys Aren’t Blue, This Book is Gay, and Gender Queer.  

One group called Lindbergh Equity and Diversity spoke in favor of the books and shared the following statement:

“It is essential that the materials in the library are of a wide variety so that the needs and interests of all students are supported at the different stages of their personal development. It is also important for students to read about and understand lives and experiences that are different than their own.” 

Parents who want the books removed said they are not driven by discrimination.  They believe the images and language are too graphic.  

“If there’s a question about some books, pull the books temporarily and then put them in for review,” said Sunset Hills resident John Lieber.  “If they’re deemed pornographic, they don’t go back on the bookshelf.” 

In an email, a district spokesperson said the Lindbergh School District appreciates when students, parents or community members share concerns or feedback.  The district is following its procedure outlined in the board of education policy to form a committee and review any materials that are challenged.   

The review committee is made up of two parents, two library media specialists, one teacher, two students at least 18 years old, the high school principal and the district director of inclusion, equity, and diversity. 

Some parents believe the books should be pulled while the review takes place.  According to district policy, the materials remain in the library during the period of review.   

All district libraries are currently in the process of pursuing Missouri Exemplary Library status through the state, according to a district spokesperson.  One requirement is that all library policies must be updated.   

Library media specialists are currently reviewing policies and procedures.  According to the district, that review includes parents and community members on the Teaching and Learning Board Advisory Committee.  They will be providing feedback and best practices for library procedures and policies moving forward.  

According to the Lindbergh School District, all of its library materials are selected and maintained in accordance with Lindbergh Schools Board of Education policy, and state standards that are established by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  

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