Banning book threatens the value of education

Liam De Luce

Just across the Potomac River, parents in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, claimed books in their school libraries were dangerous and could potentially traumatize students. 

These parents were most concerned with the novel “33 Snowfish” about homeless teens trying to escape from pasts that included sexual abuse, prostitution, and drug addiction. The school board held a unanimous vote to remove the books. Two of the members, Rabih Abuismail and Kirk Twigg, said they’d like to see the books burned.

This is a worrying pattern that has swept through Virginia and across the country, with some parents—fueled by right-wing commentators—pushing to ban material that they see as unacceptable. 

The basis of this outrage is supposedly about sexually explicit material, but all the books deemed inappropriate contained LGBTQ+ content. Why should the opinion of a few parents dictate what every child reads? Where do you draw the line between acceptable and objectionable? Should we ban great works of literature that feature uncomfortable subjects, including bloody battles, depictions of slavery, and genocide? School boards would have to ban Shakespeare’s plays, Hemingway’s novels, and Frederick Douglass’s memoirs.

Thankfully, after public outrage, the Spotsylvania school board rescinded the previous decision to ban the books in a 5-2 vote, but this issue is not going anywhere.

This issue played a role in the recent Virginia governor’s race and arguably helped Republican Glenn Youngkin win the election. Youngkin focused on the case of a Virginia parent who objected to her child reading Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, the Pulitzer-prize winning book about the horrors of slavery. 

Conservatives are attempting to stoke fear among parents by insinuating that students’ minds are being poisoned. In reality, schools are providing challenging works of literature and history, exposing students to new concepts and ideas. Education should broaden a student’s mind, not narrow it.

Schools should prepare kids for the real world and expose them to its harsh realities. Students need to learn about others that are unlike them to gain perspective and appreciate the common humanity that we all share. •