NCAC has offered its support to Community High School District in Downers Grove, Illinois, following emotionally-charged school board meetings regarding book challenges that drew members of the violent alt-right group Proud Boys in late 2021. NCAC has offered to assist the District in updating its challenge regulations to better assure all parties feel heard and respected, as well as ensure that students’ free speech rights are upheld.
Book challenges are often highly contentious and emotional and the wave of attacks on books in schools across the country in recent months has put additional pressure on school board members, school administrators, librarians and teachers, who have reported feeling under threat.
In Downers Grove, students spoke out at school board meetings to defend the inclusion of Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer in school libraries. To the District’s credit, the book was not removed from shelves while the challenge was reviewed.
NCAC recommends revising book challenge policies so that decisions are based on objective criteria which focus on the educational needs of students. Sound decisions should not fall victim to political pressure or hostility to the viewpoint or subject matter of challenged materials.
Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: