The school board for Dearborn Public Schools has banned two books, weeks after the controversy over LGBTQ- themed works started. Cheyna Roth talks with Bridge Michigan’s Isabel Lohman about the school board meeting that went from 600 participants last month, down to 60.
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In this episode:
- Bridge Michigan Talent and Education Reporter Isabella Loman talks with host Cheyna Roth about book bans happening at Dearborn and other schools.
- Dearborn recently banned two books: “Push” by Sapphire and “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston.
- Dearborn created a plan to review all books in their schools.
Dearborn Public Schools permanently removed two books from its libraries, a debate happening at school board meetings since early fall.
The books are “Push” by Sapphire and “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston. “Push” follows the story of Precious Jones, a sixteen-year-old girl who was raped by her father, beat by her mother, and dismissed by authorities in Harlem, N.Y. Precious’ life changes after meeting a teacher and learning how to write about her life.
In “Red, White and Royal Blue”, a fake friendship for the press is formed between the president’s son Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince of England Henry. The fake friendship turns into a romantic relationship that could complicate the American and English partnership.
The books were brought to Dearborn school board’s attention by parents who felt the books are sexually explicit or generally inappropriate for students, Isabell Loman said, talent and education reporter for Bridge Michigan.
The books “All Boys aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson and “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson are under scrutiny and will be reviewed by the board. This conversation started in early fall when a group showed support for LGBTQ students and advocated for books portraying LGBTQ characters. An opposing group said the books didn’t reflect their own family values and were sexually explicit.
“Dearborn is not unique in that, that there are several school districts across Michigan as well as across the country that are facing concerns from parents who say that the books on their library shelves are inappropriate or sexually explicit,” Loman said. “Dearborn is unique in that it got a lot of attention right before the election, they had a school board meeting right before the election where about 600 people attended, including Republican candidates for statewide office.”
Dearborn is not done reviewing books in their library, Loman said. They committed to a weeding process for all the books and have formalized a challenging process for parents. When a book is challenged, it is reviewed by a library specialist who makes a decision whether the book should stay on the shelf. Parents can appeal these decisions to a community committee that will read the book and make a final decision.
“And then on top of all of that, they’re saying they’re going to work with their online e-library provider to help make some restrictions around some of the content that’s available,” Loman said. “So it’s a lot bigger than just these two books, there’s all these other procedures that are being put in place.”
A week after the election, about 60 people attended the Dearborn school board meeting to voice their concerns about books seen as inappropriate, Loman said. While there were fewer people in attendance at the meeting, she expects conversations about books will continue.
“(F)or example, in Dearborn, the parents that were there say they’re gonna keep coming back. I believe them,” Loman said. “You saw in Hamtramck recently, the Detroit Free Press referenced that the Hamtramck schools are going to take a look at their books. We’re seeing books being looked at in other places, and for the people that are involved on the ground. I don’t think they’re going to stop anytime soon.”