AMERICAN FORK, Utah — The Alpine School District has made the decision to pull 52 books off the shelves of their libraries, citing complaints about the titles and contents from parents.
The largest school district in Utah is now at the center of the controversy about banning books in the state, with some organizations praising the decision and others denouncing it.
The 52 books were posted in a list by the organization which included “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, "This Book Is Gay” by Juno Dawson, and “All Boys Aren't Blue” by George M. Johnson, all of which are frequently banned books in schools across the country.
“Sweeping removals of books are not supposed to be a routine thing in school libraries," said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN. "Students have a right to learn about the variety of human experiences and perspectives that these books provide. Serious questions remain about how this decision was arrived at, and whether state statutes were properly applied.”
“Please send thank you e-mails to the Alpine School Board for pulling these books!,” the group wrote on Facebook.
However, two state library associations, The Utah Educational Library And Media Association and the Utah Library Association are sounding the alarm over how this move was done.
“I would say my initial reaction was it was a little bit gut-wrenching, definitely concerning” said Tricia Fenton, the former rresident of UELMA. “We don't want to make this a precedent for every other LEA in the state.”
The Alpine School District said their actions were the result of legislation passed in Utah regarding sensitive materials, that require school districts to have a process for identifying materials to be included or disqualified from use in libraries and schools.
"Following these laws and regulations, Alpine School District is still in process of reviewing our procurement processes of library materials. As designated in the law, a committee will further review books to determine whether another appropriate designation of restricted or removed status is needed," a district statement read.
Some books may be held at a school, waiting for local board policy adoption to continue a formal committee review.
“We’ve not had a book burning or anything,” Stephenson said. “But we are being proactive with the ones we’ve heard concerns about.”
Both library associations acknowledge that some books shouldn’t be in school libraries.
“Because there's going to be book challenges and this kind of thing is going to happen,” Bishoff said. “We want age-appropriate materials for kids. That's really important.”
But it's the vetting and rushed nature of the books being pulled off as a mass volume of work that the organizations take issue with, and are concerned about them not being fully-vetted beforehand.
“We do students a disservice when we limit [students'] ability to engage with challenging materials,” said Bishoff.
Complete list of pulled books:
- Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The Haters by Jesse Andrews
- Damsel by Elana K. Arnold
- Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
- What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold
- My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
- Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Mark Bieschke
- The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick
- Forever... by Judy Blume
- Flamer by Mike Curato
- This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
- The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
- The Carnival at Bray Jessie Ann Foley
- Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill
- Crank by Ellen Hopkins
- Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
- Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
- People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins
- Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
- We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
- All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
- Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
- A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
- Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren't Complicated, I Wouldn't Be Ruby Oliver by e. lockhart
- Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
- A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
- A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
- A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
- The Truth About Alice: A Novel by Jennifer Mathieu
- Fade by Lisa McMann
- Shine by Lauren Myracle
- ttfn by Lauren Myracle
- ttyl by Lauren Myracle
- Breathless by Jennifer Niven
- Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
- Out of Darkness by Pérez, Ashley Hope
- grl2grl: Short fictions by Julie Anne Peters Nineteen
- Minutes by Jodi Picoult The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
- Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
- The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
- Push by Sapphire
- Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres
- SEX: If You're Scared of The Truth Don't Read This! by Carl Sommer
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki