Yorktown Central School District in Yorktown Heights, New York, is currently adjudicating challenges to a number of school library books. The books, however, have been removed from shelves purportedly to allow review committee members can read them. The National Coalition Against Censorship, along with the Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America and PEN Children’s and Young Adult Books Committee, is urging the district to amend their book challenge procedures to ensure that challenged books remain in library circulation while challenges are adjudicated.
Because committee members must read every book, it is likely that a large number of books, perhaps all, will be removed from the library shelves for a considerable period of time. As a result, the district’s students will lose access to the books, merely because someone filed a challenge that has not yet been reviewed. Books currently unavailable include Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Jack of Hearts by L.C. Rosen and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.
The district’s current policy denies students access to materials which professional educators have deemed valuable. These practices encourage large-scale and even bad faith challenges, because challengers who don’t like certain books know that they can effectively remove them, at least temporarily, by filing challenges.
It is for those very reasons that many districts have enacted policies which explicitly require that challenged books remain in use pending the adjudication of challenges. Moreover, the district should make clear that challenged books should not be removed for committee members to read them, because doing so is unnecessary.
Read NCAC’s letter to the District below. Click here for a full screen view: