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Feds say Georgia school district’s book ban may have created hostile environment

The district said, by implementing the federal agency’s recommendations, “we will advance our mission of providing an unparalleled education for all to succeed.”

District media panel considered several options

After receiving complaints about the books, the school district’s media committee received a request to allow parents to allow or disallow their child from reading books containing sexual or LGBTQ+ content, but the committee declined to give that option, saying Huye dismissed that the students would find a way to avoid it. system, and librarians would have to play a “gatekeeper role,” the federal memo said.

The committee also rejected suggestions such as keeping LGBTQ+ books in a separate area, or tagging them with a special sticker, as this could discourage students from using the media center and lead to bullying or harassment by other students. may cause.

In January of 2022, the committee approved posting a statement on the district’s website that read in part, “Forsyth County school media centers provide resources that reflect all students in each school community. If If you come across a book that does not align with your family’s values ​​and/or beliefs, and you do not want your child to see the book, please discuss it with your child.”

Later that month, District Superintendent Jeff Bearden authorized the removal of books from school libraries that were deemed sexually explicit or obscene. But the office of civil rights says gender identity, sexual orientation and diversity were also mentioned in public comments at board meetings, giving the impression that those qualities were included in the district’s screening. The office said the district failed in two ways: by not telling students about its criteria and process, and by not addressing the impact the book removal would have on students.

To resolve the issues, Forsyth County reached a settlement agreement with the Department of School Education, which outlines a number of actions for the district, such as providing resources to those affected by the removal of certain books, upgrading the book screening process, Posting in “Immediate Places Available in Middle and High School” and conducting a climate survey for middle and high school students.

“I thank Forsyth County Schools for assessing and responding to the needs of students who may have felt subject to a hostile environment as a result of the library book screening process and for ensuring that going forward, this Harassment that creates a hostile environment based on sex, race, color or national origin,” said Kathryn Laman, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education.

Residents talking about books in schools

While the matter is moving toward a resolution between the district and the Department of Education, the roster of speakers at a recent Forsyth board meeting suggests the debate over potentially banning more books is not going away.

A resident who spoke at the end of the May 16 meeting alleged that students were being sexually abused and exposed to “anti-God ideologies”, blaming a curriculum he said “Marxist was dictated by corporations and people like Bill and Melinda Gates and George Soros.

But a mother who spoke next disagreed, saying she moved to Forsyth so her two children could attend its stronger schools. While she is willing to discuss any books her children want to read, the woman said, she does not want the headmaster and other senior school officials to spend their time checking out library books.

“We are allowing people who don’t believe in the system to come and destroy it,” she said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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