EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah civil rights leader supports Canyons School District review of ‘obscene’ books

Nov 18, 2021, 9:12 AM
(File photo)
(File photo)

SANDY — A local civil rights organization is standing in support of the Canyons School District after officials removed a handful of books from four of its high schools. A concerned parent emailed the district about the books.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, issued a statement Wednesday night regarding the review of the books: 

“The NAACP is concerned with obscene and offensive language that are throughout these books in the Canyon’s School District that has been removed from the category and will be reviewed. We support access to reading material that are appropriate for all students. The District has the responsibility through their curriculum department to review all books that are in the classroom and library. As President of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch and Tri-State Conference of Idaho, Nevada and Utah, my goal is to work with the district to ensure the appropriate reading to share with students. It is not about the titles but the contents within these books that the NAACP is concerned about through these book challenges. The NAACP would like to see the process play-out. The district’s policy is silent and I look forward for Canyon’s Board to address their policy.”

The books were removed for what the district considered questionable content, including mention of transgender teens, sexual experiences, race, class, and other controversial topics.

There is some concern about the Canyons district policy on banning books, but a spokesperson tells KSL.com it reserves the right to pull any book while it reviews its policy.

KSL.com provided the list of books that have been removed from the high school libraries are:

  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison.
  • “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin, which is a nonfiction book about six transgender teens.
  • “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany Jackson, a fiction book about a Black middle school girl who goes missing and no one notices, and it has a 14-and-older recommendation for sexual content.
  • “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez, a novel set in 1937 in New London, Texas that examines segregation, love, family and racism.
  • “The Opposite of Innocent” by Sonya Sones, a coming-of-age novel about a 14-year-old in love with an adult male friend of her parents.
  • “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, a semi-autobiographical coming of age novel that examines race, class and whether everyone has access to the American dream.
  • “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, which is one of the few “classics” on the list, as it is widely considered among the top 100 novels written. It’s the story of a middle-aged professor who is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl and engages in a pedophilic relationship with her.
  • “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, which is a memoir that a parent recently read excerpts from at a Canyons School Board meeting. This book, a graphic novel in which Kobabe discusses sexual orientation and gender identity, has made headlines recently for causing controversy in other states, including Texas.
  • “L8R G8R” by Lauren Myracle, a novel written in instant messaging text that has become the country’s No. 1 banned book due to sexual content.

Find the full story as reported by Amy Donaldson with KSL.com.

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Utah civil rights leader supports Canyons School District review of ‘obscene’ books