I’ve blogged here and elsewhere about how actions often have unintended consequences. It doesn’t matter how good someone’s intentions might be in taking an action, there will be consequences. This is especially true when you get to actions taken based on religious or political beliefs. It’s something we see every day. It is now something being played out in one of the school districts local to my residence.
Like so many other areas, our local school districts are facing increasing pressure to remove books from their required reading lists and/or classrooms or school libraries. The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD found itself in the middle of such pressure and, like so many others, gave in. I’m not going to say they were wrong because they weren’t–at least not completely. But the district administration also wasn’t completely in the right. As a result, students are taking action on their own, action the district (not to mention parents and all those outside voices who somehow think they have the right to tell folks they don’t know and whose district they don’t live in what books their kids should be exposed to.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, especially one in high school, if I was told I couldn’t read something, I went out of my way to find that book or magazine and read it. If that book or books were the center of shouting matches at the local school board meeting and said meeting was televised and widely covered on local news, I’d pay attention. It would become a question of what don’t these people who aren’t my parents want to hide from me?
Remember, we’re talking about high school students, not elementary or middle schoolers.
And that is exactly what happened with one 16-year-old who attends Grapevine High School. This young man had the fortitude to not only stand up before the Board of Trustees and call them out for their actions:
“You try and fit people in boxes they don’t fit in because people who are different scare you,” he told the board. “I don’t care if you live in a world of ignorance, but don’t force it on the next generation.”
But that wasn’t the only thing he did. He put actions to his words. He formed a book club, found a teacher to “monitor” it, dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Then he presented it to the school administration, answered all their questions and, in the end, they approved his request.
You see, this young man loves books:
“Books mean everything to me, and I can’t stand the thought of that being taken away from me or other students.”
When he appeared before the school board, he held a copy of The Kite Runner. That was one of the books removed from the library. It is also one of the books his group will read and discuss.
Now, this young man is smart. He’s set his group up so they will be reading some of the books removed by the administration but they will be reading others as well. According to the linked story above, each meeting sees the members of his group discussing a book and then choosing the next book to be read.
And I guaran-damn-tee you this is not what those who pushed to have all those book removed from the schools wanted to happen.
I also wonder if the adults who pushed to have books like The Kite Runner removed even attempted to read them. More importantly, did they read them and discuss the books with their kids?
This isn’t me saying parents shouldn’t be involved and shouldn’t object when districts try to force their kids to read something that is inappropriate for the child due to age, comprehension level, etc. What I do have a problem with is removing books that aren’t required. I have a problem with people demanding books be removed without reading them. I have a problem with people who don’t live in the school district thinking they have a right to tell me what books should be made available in my child’s school. I have a real problem with folks who object to certain books and force their removal under language so vague the same rules can later be used to remove books those first parents/objectors feel are perfectly find for their kids to read.
Featured Image created using Midjourney AI.