The National Coalition Against Censorship today urged the school district in Katy, Texas to obey its own challenge policy and restore Angie Thomas’ award-winning and critically-acclaimed novel The Hate U Give to school library shelves. The book is currently under review after it was challenged last month by a parent who complained of “inappropriate language,” the district’s policy says it should remain available during the review 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 last month, and Hindt had it pulled from all district libraries shortly thereafter. In a statement to NCAC, 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.”
The Texas Library Association (TLA) and ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) have also condemned Hindt’s action. Courtney Kincaid, the chair of TLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee who has first-hand experience defending books in her own collection, said in a statement to Bustle this week:
The Texas Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee solidly stands by the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read statement. The professional librarians at Katy ISD follow procedures for obtaining materials, then the school board and administration must follow the stated policies and procedures for any reconsideration of materials.
Katy ISD’s policy on Challenged Resources clearly states that “access to a challenged resource shall not be restricted during the reconsideration process.” One individual, Superintendent Hindt, apparently believes that the book is “pervasively vulgar”–but that is why a committee review process exists for more than one individual to determine if its pedagogical value outweighs any concerns about profanity. We hope to see the book restored to shelves very soon!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.