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  • Writer's pictureSUTV News

Texas library threatens closure over book ban

Updated: May 24, 2023

By: Adam Beam SUTV News

“Censorship is a hideous reaction to people’s failure to understand what the story’s about,” that’s the sentiment of Dr. Michael Drager, an associate professor at Shippensburg University who worries about the trend of book banning in America.

The classroom has seemingly become a home for controversy over the past year regarding the safety of students and the subjects to which they’re being taught. Its seems that with each passing week the list of banned books continues to expand. In a unique turn of events, a public library in Llano County, Texas is now considering shutting its doors because of government intervention that would require them to put a handful of banned books back on the shelf.

In March, federal Judge Robert Pitman ordered that “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” and “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” be returned to library shelves. “The First Amendment prohibits the removal of books from libraries based on either viewpoint or content discrimination,” is what Pitman told library officials regarding the matter.

This battle in Texas is just one of hundreds of similar debates being waged across the country. According to a study by PEN America of the 2021-2022 academic year, there was 2,500 reported cases of books being banned in U.S. schools.

The notion of banning books has been around since “New English Canaan” was banned in 1637, the first documented case of such an occurrence. While Shippensburg University may seem safe from this movement, younger readers in the area could still be at risk.

In another report by PEN America, Pennsylvania has the 3rd most banned books in the country. Just an hour away from Shippensburg, the Central York School Distirct makes up the majority of the state’s banned book list. Out of the 459 recorded bans thus far, this school district makes up 441 of them. Similar to related incidents, the books being banned mainly focus “sexual identity and race”.

Other Pennsylvania school districts with banned books Fairview School District, East Stroudsburg Area School District, Pennridge School District, and Kutztown Area School District.

Piper Kull is an English major at Shippensburg University as well as the editor-in-chief for The Slate newspaper. Given her major, she too fears what this rise in censorship could do to future generations of young readers. As she expressed, “Reading is such an important part of not only learning, but developing compassion and empathy for other people through feeling for characters.”

In the 2021, Pennsylvania Republicans passed the “Empowering Parents With Curriculum Transparency" bill. "By empowering parents with this information before the school year starts, we can ensure that curriculum and lesson plans being taught in our public schools,” said Rep. Andrew Lewis in a memorandum after the bill passed. Governor Tom Wolf never signed the bill.

Currently, the Llano County has not announced any official plans to close its doors in the near future despite the controversy.

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