The critically-acclaimed Young Adult novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has returned to high school library shelves in Katy, Texas–but students need parental permission to check it out, and it could still be banned later on after evaluation by a review committee.
In violation of Katy Independent School District policy, Superintendent Lance Hindt ordered the book removed from school libraries in November after a parent read out-of-context excerpts at a school board meeting. Hindt told the National Coalition Against Censorship that he pulled the book based on its “pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language…not its substantive content or the viewpoint expressed,” but that it could be restored after consideration by a review committee.
Regardless of Hindt’s motivation, Katy ISD’s policy on Challenged Resources clearly states that “access to a challenged resource shall not be restricted during the reconsideration process.” After a national outcry by intellectual freedom advocates and fans of the book, the superintendent allowed it back in high school libraries last week. Students wishing to read it or check it out must have parental permission via “phone call, email or an in person consent,” according to Katy ISD media relations manager Maria DiPetta.
Thomas’ debut novel is about an African American teen, Starr Carter, who witnesses her childhood best friend shot and killed by police while unarmed. After it was removed from Katy school library shelves, local advocates stepped in and spoke up to make sure teens in the area could still access The Hate U Give. The Texas literary blog Stackedbooks.org coordinated an online donation drive and volunteer distribution of copies to various Little Free Libraries, while Katy freshman Ny’Shira Lundy started an online petition to the district that garnered over 3000 signatures.
Although the book is currently back on Katy high school shelves with restrictions, it has not been returned to the middle school libraries that previously held copies. The district is now in the process of forming a review committee to decide its ultimate fate; DiPetta toldSchool Library Journal that process could take “from a couple of days to months,” although the challenge policy says the committee should meet “as soon as reasonably possible” after all members have read the entire book. Here’s hoping for a positive outcome–sooner rather than later!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.