Some very upsetting bookish news has just hit the press— the Madison County School Board has just approved the banning of 21 books from the Madison County High School Library. This decision was made during their first meeting of the year. The community has expressed other issues that need handling, but this was the priority of the board.
Those who were for the banning included chair Nita Collier, vice-chair Christopher Wingate, and board member Greg Martz.
The 21 books banned by Madison County’s School Board include:
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi (including Defy Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me, Shatter Me, Imagine Me, and Unravel Me)
- Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Sula by Toni Morrison
- Love by Toni Morrison
- The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
- Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
- Bag of Bones by Stephen King
- 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
- It by Stephen King
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Why Ban These Books?
You may be just as confused as I am as to why these books have been banned all of a sudden. Apparently, last year Focus in the Family, an ultra-conservative family-values organization in Colorado Springs released a list of “unacceptable” books. This list was then compared with the books that were held in the Madison County High School library.
Vice-chair Christopher Wingate insisted these books are pulled from the shelves and taken out only with parents’ permission.
To make matters worse, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law in April 2022 that requires schools to notify parents if any reading materials are sexually explicit. This law also allows parents to say their child cannot read said material. This law was required to be put into action by January 1, 2023.
What is most interesting about this banning is the DOE specifically stated that the censoring does not extend to public schools. However, Wingate went against this notion and wrote up his own restrictive policy.
What Does the Public Have To Say?
Many school board members have responded in support of the banning. Some members of the public have spoken out to say that instead of banning, it should be the parents’ prerogative whether or not to allow their child to read said books. A few students even spoke out, saying that they should be able to freely choose what they want to read.
Wingate states that his sole intent is to protect children. Apparently, he himself read the books to check for explicit content. He is hellbent on doing what is “right” in the eyes of the law and, seemingly the church.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court of the United States once stated in 1982 that school boards could not ban books from school libraries.
The most heartwarming part of this story is that the public library in Madison County has made sure to have all 21 banned books readily available. It makes me so happy to see librarians and the public making sure students have the option to read any book they wish.
Click here if you are interested in learning how to fight book banning in your community from us here at Bookstr!