Last month, Angie Thomas’ critically-acclaimed Young Adult novel The Hate U Give was removed from school library shelves in Katy, Texas after it was challenged by a parent who complained of “inappropriate language.” On Monday, the board of the Katy Independent School District will convene to decide whether the searing racial-justice themed book should again be made available to students.
Although Superintendent Lance Hindt maintains that he only pulled The Hate U Give from circulation until the challenge has been addressed, even that action violates Katy ISD’s policy on Challenged Resources which clearly states that “access to a challenged resource shall not be restricted during the reconsideration process.”
The debut novel by Thomas is about an African American teen, Starr Carter, who witnesses her childhood best friend shot and killed by police while unarmed. A parent read out-of-context excerpts at a school board meeting in November, and Hindt had it pulled from all district libraries shortly thereafter. In a statement to the National Coalition Against Censorship, the superintendent said that he suppressed the book based on its “pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language…not its substantive content or the viewpoint expressed.”
In an ironic twist, the school board will meet to decide the book’s fate on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The meeting will begin in closed session at 5:30 pm and transition to open session around 6:30 pm, according to an agenda posted on the district’s website. Members of the public who wish to speak during the 30-minute public comment period must sign up at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting, which will be held in the board room of the Education Support Complex at 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy.
Supporters of intellectual freedom can also sign the online petition started by Katy freshman Ny’Shira Lundy, who addressed Hindt in an open letter:
I would strongly suggest that you take the time to read this incredible book and reconsider putting this book back on your school shelves. In fact this book might be a great tool for the Katy ISD school district. It can bring about unity and understanding among the different races in your middle and high schools. By placing the book back on the shelf it also gives the children a choice. If they decide they would like to read this book and their parents allow them to, then they should have the freedom to do so. I personally believe that children should have intellectual freedom. I would assume that you as a superintendent would have the same intent.
Here’s hoping that a group of equally impassioned fellow students and adult supporters will pack the board room alongside Lundy on Monday evening!
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.