In 2023, Texas passed a policy that banned any books that are “sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable books in public schools.” This is a state that has banned more books than nearly any other state in the U.S. other than Florida. After providing challenging books to students, teachers have, unfortunately, lost their jobs or have been pressured to quit.
Hello, My Name Is – Anonymous
The teacher who has created this secret bookshelf remains anonymous to avoid becoming a target. One student of hers recalls a time when he would have never even picked up a book but was inclined to do so after finding that he was being represented in those banned books. The importance of being represented in books is crucial for these young students.
After the then, state Rep. Matt Krause sent out a list of 850 books to be banned from public schools in 2021, the secret bookshelf began.
Krause claimed these books might:
“make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.”via NPR
This made the anonymous teacher furious. She responded:
“The books that make you uncomfortable are the books that make you think, isn’t that what school is supposed to do? It’s supposed to make you think?”via NPR
The teacher was set to action immediately, calling friends to support her and enlisting a student to put the collection together. The student who put together this bookshelf later came out as trans to his family, noting that the banned books made him feel seen and supported.
“Having these books, having these stories out there meant a lot to me, because I felt seen.”via NPR
This secret shelf has been so important and crucial to the development of these young students’ identities. Without them, they do not have exposure to representation or real-life topics. Countless teachers are losing their jobs by providing students with different perspectives and insights. The anonymous teacher hopes she doesn’t have to keep her book collection for the students a secret any longer, as it has played a part in these students finding their identities.
Read more of our articles on book bans here!
Browse our bookshelves for banned book recommendations here!