Students Outraged at Book-Banning

Students in North Kansas City Schools took initiative and boycotted against a book ban in the district. They were successful, and the books threatened with banning are back on the shelves.

In late October, the president of the Northland Parent Association, James Richmond, spoke at a meeting with the Board of Education about the books “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson and “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel.

After the board meeting, the books were temporarily removed from school libraries all over the district while the issue was being debated. This sparked the fuse of Northtown junior Aurora Nicol, who created a petition against these books being banned. The petition has over a thousand signatures as of Thursday, Dec. 16.

“I took initiative and made the petition because I thought it was wrong [book banning], and that I needed a way to show the district that lots of people agreed banning books was wrong,” said Nicol, co-president of the Northland Student Association.

She spoke publicly on social media, ridiculing the school district for banning books.

The NSA called for any students against the book banning to come to the board meeting on Monday, Nov. 22. Students who attended the board meeting agreed to wear all black, in what they said was a display of solidarity.

“I appreciate that students shared their thoughts at the school board meeting in a respectful manner while consistently following district policy,” says Oak Park librarian Angela Van Batavia.

Student efforts to keep the books in schools received attention in news outlets such as The Kansas City Star, KSHB, and FOX4.

Just before the Tuesday, Nov. 22 board meeting, the district put the books back on the shelves.

“I think the district put the books back because of press, and knowing students were going to assemble at the following board meeting,” Nicol said. “They removed them [the books] out of panic at the idea of parents and didn’t think of their policy.”

Before the books were returned to shelves in high schools, The American Civil Liberties Union said that removing the books violated students’ constitutional right to receive information and ideas.

Others agree

“If the books are geared toward high school and early college/young adulthood, then they should be permitted within the school, especially if they do not promote discrimination, hate, or violence in real life. These things are what change it from freedom of speech to actual aggression,” said theater director and teacher Matthew Ashbaugh. “My personal belief is that it is a way for the few to control the masses. A few upset that they want to control everyone through their anger.”

“I think if someone doesn’t want to read something, they don’t have to– especially if it’s just in the library,” Nicol said.