School officials in Katy, Texas have banned the critically acclaimed YA novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas without following district challenge policy, according to a student who posted about the incident on Twitter.
Katy Independent School District Superintendent Lance Hindt reportedly ordered the book pulled from shelves in mid-November after some parents complained about “inappropriate language.” The novel is about an African American teen, Starr Carter, who witnesses her childhood best friend shot and killed by police while unarmed.
After being alerted to the ban, Thomas responded on Twitter with a reference to Starr’s neighborhood from the book:
I’m saddened to hear that a school district in Texas banned #TheHateUGive, but I’m also empowered – you’re basically telling the kids of the Garden Heights of the world that their stories shouldn’t be told. Well, I’m going to tell them even louder. Thanks for igniting the fire.
As of this morning, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom said that it was working in cooperation with the Texas Library Association to get The Hate U Give reinstated in Katy schools. From existing reports it is unclear whether the book has been removed from classrooms, library shelves, or both.
In any case, the district’s challenge policy says that while a building principal or other administrator may offer an alternate assignment for an individual student whose parent has complained about a book, they may not remove books altogether. Instead, the administrator is to give the parent a challenge form to fill out and submit, whereupon a review committee is appointed to consider the book’s fate.
We’ll continue to follow the story and will post updates if they become available.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.