A Texas school librarian said she was ordered last week to remove her display of “banned books,” dividing students and parents in her community.
Mary Wilson, a librarian at Belton Middle School in Belton, Texas, went viral on TikTok after saying she refused to remove her display in honor of Banned Books Week. Her video has accumulated 1.3 million views.
“The day before school starts, I sit here and mind my own business [the principal] comes in and tells me I have to take down my banned book week display that is in the entrance of the library because a parent called him and complained about it,” Wilson said in the clip.
The librarian said she declined.
“I told him no, I’m not taking it off because I serve over 700 students, not just one student, and celebrating banned book week is part of our ALA (American Library Association) standards and something every secondary library in our school district does. ” She said.
Banned Books Week takes place every September to celebrate “the freedom to read,” according to the ALA. Among the books most banned or challenged between 2000 and 2009 are the Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling, the Alice Series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou.
According to Wilson, the principal told her to “keep things academic.” She responded by asking if she should dismantle other non-academic exhibits, like one focused on superheroes.
Wilson said she continued to refuse the director’s request, eventually bursting into tears because she was so “angry.”
“I’m upset because people want to take away books that mostly feature marginalized people,” she said.
This was announced by the Belton Independent School District news week that the display currently resides in the Belton Middle School library.
“We are committed to providing exceptional learning experiences for each and every student and staff member to make them feel valued, supported and engaged,” said a school district spokesman. “We cannot comment on specific personnel matters.”
news week has reached out to Wilson for comment.
The librarian’s portrayal has sparked outrage from more than one Belton parent. Parents protested at a school board meeting on Monday night, mainly complaining that their children were being exposed to sexual content.
“I’m here to raise awareness of the harmful material in our schools, particularly sexually explicit and age-inappropriate material,” parent Hillary Hickland said, according to KCEN-TV.
However, students at Belton Middle School started a petition in support of the librarian. The petition said students would stage a strike if the display was removed, local news reported.
A nationwide trend toward politicizing the books read by children has led to an unprecedented number of motions to ban books. The ALA’s Office of Freedom of Thought (OIF) recorded 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021, affecting 1,597 books.
The bureau found that requests for removal were directed at books dealing with racism and racial justice. On the ALA’s 10 Most Challenged Books list for 2021, each title focuses on marginalized communities or issues of sexuality.
The Tennessee legislature passed the Age-Appropriate Materials Act in April, requiring public schools to post a list of materials in their libraries online for parents to consult. In January, the McMinn County School Board of Eastern Tennessee voted to ban Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Mouseover concerns about nudity and profanity.
A bill was proposed in Oklahoma last year to ban public school libraries from stocking books dealing with sexual activity, sexual identity or gender identity, allowing parents to charge up to $10,000 for each day a book is read thereafter kept in your child’s school library has been nominated for removal.
https://www.newsweek.com/school-librarian-enraged-remove-banned-books-display-texas-viral-tiktok-1736653 School librarian ‘angry’ at order to remove ‘banned books display’