It finally happened. The Keller Independent School District in Texas banned the Bible in school… at least temporarily. And we have conservative Christians to thank for it.
Keller ISD, in Tarrant County, has seen a flurry of activity around book bans recently. Since last October, conservative parents have demanded that certain books be censored and kept away from students because they include content deemed too mature for their eyes. 33 books have been challenged by parents and community members, including a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and “The Bible (All Versions).”
In the case of the Bible, an unnamed parent raised the concern. A reason was not specified.
The district formed a special committee to review everything on the list, and over the course of months, they removed some books from circulation while others remained in place. The adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary? That one remained in place. The Morrison book stayed as well. So did all the Bibles. As they should! There’s no reason to shield kids from any of them.
But according to an email that apparently went out to all principals this morning from Jennifer Price, the Executive Director for Curriculum & Instruction, all challenged books must be pulled from the library and classrooms by the end of today… even the ones that previously passed the committee’s review.
It’s not clear why these books need to be removed, or what’s going to happen if they’re not removed, or how long this bizarre form of censorship will last, but the bottom line here is clear:
A Texas school district just banned all versions of the Bible.
You can send your thank-you letters to all those conservative parents who led a push to prevent students from accessing books that discuss sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Their overzealousness may have backfired. In an attempt to make sure kids never read about sex, rape, incest, or genocide, they failed to realize the Bible contains all of the above and then some. To be clear, students who want to bring a Bible to school could theoretically still do that. But if this ban holds up, students could not check the book out from their school library, nor could teachers use the book (even in an academic sense) in the classroom.
Incidentally, Chaz Stevens, an atheist activist in Florida, recently made this exact argument to ban the Bible in school as part of an effort to call out right-wing hypocrisy. You could argue he was just trolling. But now a school district has gone ahead and done it anyway.
To quote a former Texas governor, “Oops.”
***Update***: The Texas Tribune confirms this story and says it’s the result of a more conservative school board wanting to take another look at all challenged material:
… since that committee met and recommended keeping some challenged books, three new conservative school board members, all recipients of a Christian political action committee’s donations, were elected to the district’s seven-member board of trustees. And according to the school district, all 41 challenged books are now to be reviewed again by campus staff and librarians to see if they meet a new board policy approved last week, according to Bryce Nieman, the Keller ISD spokesperson.
This is what happens when you elect school board members whose primary goal is to destroy public education.