The National Coalition Against Censorship and several other groups have written to the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas, to object to the banning of Call Me Max. The banning of this one book for the viewpoint it expresses raises serious constitutional concerns.
This incident is the latest in a series of clear and targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ stories in schools and libraries. Several states are considering legislation that would severely limit schools’ use of books that address LGBTQ+ issues. In recent years, LGBTQ+ stories have topped lists of banned and challenged books nationwide. Even addressing the existence of LGBTQ+ folks has sparked controversy in districts across the country.
Call Me Max, written by Kyle Lukoff, has been described by the School Library Journal as “an excellent, and potentially groundbreaking, publication choice.” The book tells the story of a trans boy discovering his identity.
According to media reports, the book was read aloud in class after appearing on a list of suggested readings circulated by a district teacher. After parents complained, teachers were instructed not to use the book in classrooms. Eanes ISD is well within its rights to prevent teachers from using instructional resources which have not been adopted through the district’s curriculum review process. However, the District did not halt the use of all books on the circulated list. It singled out Call Me Max.
News reports indicate that some parents have demanded that a teacher who read the book in class be terminated. We call upon the District to publicly state that the teacher did not commit a terminable offense, nor any offense at all, and will not be disciplined for his or her good faith effort to comply with the District’s stated devotion to diversity, equity and inclusion.
If the District is concerned about the pedagogical value of books on a supplementary book list it should have a procedure for reviewing the entire list, not arbitrarily single out one book with a possibly controversial viewpoint. However, it is our recommendation that teachers, who are the professionals most familiar with their students’ needs, should have the discretion to use their professional judgment to choose the books they offer their students.
Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: