A second wave of challenges has been filed to remove books from the Nixa High School library.
The claims filed in late September and early October — obtained by the News-Leader via a Sunshine Law request — allege the books are vulgar, sexually explicit or unsuitable for high school students.
Earlier this year, parents and patrons of Nixa targeted 16 books from the high school library for removal. Two books were banned and access to 10 others was restricted.
Brenda Rantz, chief financial officer, responded to Sunshine Law’s request and said review panels were being formed for eight of the books.
Rantz said the ninth book, “Girl in Pieces,” is not available in the district.
According to district policy, review committees — which include educators and community members — will decide whether challenged books remain in the library, are removed, or are restricted, meaning they can only be borrowed. with parental permission.
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Nixa parents have long had the ability to restrict their children’s access to specific books by notifying the library or school.
If the person who filed the book challenge is unhappy with the review committee’s decision, they can appeal the decision to the school board, which has the final say.
The nine recently challenged books include:
- “A Court of Thorns and Roses”, by Sarah J. Maas, 2016;
- “A Court of Mist and Fury”, by Sarah J. Maas, 2017;
- “A Court of Frost and Starlight”, by Sarah J. Maas, 2018;
- “A courtyard of wings and ruins” by Sarah J. Maas, 2020;
- “A Court of Silver Flames”, by Sarah J. Maas, 2021;
- “Empire of Storms”, by Sarah J. Maas, 2016;
- “Girl in Pieces”, by Kathleen Glasgow, 2016;
- “Lucky” by Alice Sebold, 1999;
- “Unpregnant” by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan, 2019.
“We want to protect all students”
Ten women connected to the group Concerned Parents of the Ozarks filed the book challenges earlier this year. Two of the women, Carissa Corson and Cindy Dickens, filed claims in the second wave.
The News-Leader left messages seeking comment from both women on Saturday.
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The two women addressed the school board at an Oct. 20 meeting, where the board unanimously “revoted” to update a policy outlining how library books are selected.
Corson said library materials should not contain sexually explicit language, illustrations or images and applauded the board for “making changes to reflect the majority of parents’ wishes here at Nixa”.
She refuted ‘false claims’ made by those opposing the book ban, including that ‘young people deserve to see themselves reflected in library books’.
“I guess in making that remark the reference is to LGBT students in particular. To them I would ask ‘Why do you think it’s okay for an LGBT student to be sexualized at a young age?’ No minor deserves to be sexualized through books or other means, regardless of sexual orientation,” Corson said Oct. 20. “We want to protect all students.”
Corson said those who oppose the removal of books also say that having access to books helps young people navigate difficult or difficult issues.
“I agree that books are tools used to understand complete problems, but the miner’s mind is not ready to handle a book on quantum physics, just as it is not ready to handle explicit materials,” Corson said. “Giving too much information too quickly to a child prevents them from following a natural progression of learning and growth.”
She argued that what students read in a book includes “every feeling is described” and the reader “lives vicariously” through the character.
“A parent can try to explain much of what a child might have seen on a television screen, but the imprint left by the book can be much harder to process in a child,” Corson said. “That can only happen if a parent is aware of what their child is reading.”
“The floodgates are now wide open for more challenges”
After the first wave of book challenges, Nixa parents and taxpayers formed a group called U Turn in Education to fight censorship, ensure a diverse range of books in school libraries, and demand transparency from school board and education. administration.
“The floodgates are now wide open for more challenges, which could mean more restrictions and cuts,” said Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirk, on behalf of the group. “There is nothing for concerned citizens to do because the process has eliminated the teachers and put the final decision in the hands of the council.”
She said that since parents have long had the ability to restrict the books their own children view, trying to remove books from the entire library is overkill.
“These books have been shown to have literary merit, artistic merit, and increase social understanding and empathy. They’ve won awards and been on shelves for decades,” Dudash-Buskirk said. “The assertion of their removal only demonstrates Nixa’s lack of initiative in the diversification of education.”
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The new wave of book challenges started on September 14. The group expressed frustration that the district had not made the list public sooner.
“The school board has repeatedly touted its commitment to transparency. Yet they don’t make challenges public until they’re sunny. They don’t inform the community, only the PTSA,” he said. she stated. “They don’t produce voting decisions made behind closed doors until they’re called.”
A book affected by the deletion “undermines parental authority”
Of the nine new challenges, six are fantasy fiction books by Sarah J. Maas, a New York Times bestselling author who has written three series for young adult readers.
All five books in Maas’ “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series are on the list.
Requesting their removal from the library’s collection, Corson wrote the same passage: “This book contains pervasive and vulgar sexual content. Not suitable for minors.”
Corson wrote that in “Unpregnant”, an underage girl from a conservative Christian home in Missouri seeks an abortion in another state and travels without her parents’ knowledge to “end her baby’s life”.
“This book is considered a comedy,” Corson wrote in the application. “It also goes against Nixa’s sex education policy and undermines parental authority.”
Alice Sebold, known for the 2002 novel ‘The Lovely Bones’, wrote the memoir ‘Lucky’ about being raped near a tunnel while a college student and how that experience shaped her life. She has repeatedly said in interviews that her goal in writing the book was to raise awareness of rape and support survivors.
In the application filed by Dickens, she wrote that the books were “not teaching materials” and included “horrifically graphic rape details”.
Dickens noted, “In the hands of a professional, this could be used to help a child going through a similar situation.”
She also called for the removal of “Girl in Pieces,” a novel that details self-harm and suicide. It is not part of the high school library collection.
Claudette Riley covers education for the News-Leader. Email tips and story ideas to [email protected]