Hundreds of diverse “not approved” books found trashed at elementary school

Author: Molly Sprayregen

Hundreds of books were recently found in the trash outside a Staten Island elementary school. The books were in boxes labeled “not approved” and were filled with stories featuring LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people of color.

Spiegel was shocked to discover sticky notes on the books explaining why they had not been approved.

A note on The Derby Daredevils stated it was not approved because it “discusses dad being transgender” and “teenage girls having a crush on another girl in class.” One of the children’s books, Julian is a Mermaid, said “boy questions gender.”

On a book entitled We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know, a note declared, “negative slant on white people.” And one about a boy living on the U.S.-Mexico border said, “Our country has no room and it’s not fair.”

The city education department is reportedly investigating the situation, as there is no record of any formal book challenges at the school. Records only show that a part-time librarian had asked about the book challenging process.

“The books aren’t getting into the hands of kids who would identify with the characters,” Spiegel said, “but they’re also not getting into the hands of kids whose worldview would be broadened by reading about people who aren’t like them.”

Parents at the school have also spoken out against banning the books.

“I don’t know why the books would be thrown out,” said Alissa Barakakos. “I want my kid to be a part of the school community where everything is open and honest and kids are being educated.”

“I don’t believe in banning books at all,” said Angela Hartje, who has a third grader.

One advocate – Natasha Capers, the director of the Coalition for Educational Justice – was outraged about a trashed Black Panther book being labeled “Witchcraft? Human skulls.”

“You read Shakespeare, and [“Macbeth”] starts out with three witches around a cauldron,” she said. “Hamlet,” she noted, “is legitimately talking to a skull.”

The controversy is considered one of the first related to book banning in New York City. Until now, the liberal enclave has largely remained immune to the right-wing attacks on book accessibility across the country.

The state’s attorney general, Letitia James, has made it clear she supports LGBTQ+ rights and has continued to stand up for transgender people.

James’s office also recently called on Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to rescind his February 22 executive order banning the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Museums from issuing permits to women’s and girls’ sports teams that include transgender athletes. 

And in March 2023, amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ protests at all-ages Pride events and drag performances, James hosted a Drag Story Hour at Manhattan’s LGBTQ Center. After anti-LGBTQ+ protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, clashed with supporters outside the event, James’s office released a statement saying that part of the point of the Drag Story Hour was to “condemn hate and combat rampant disinformation.”

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Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Molly Sprayregen

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