Upon claiming that she was asked by school administration to remove a Banned Books Week display at the request of a parent, a school librarian went viral on TikTok.
Mia (@miarwilson3), a librarian at a Texas middle school in the Belton ISD, claims that her principal approached her the day before school started in a video that has gone viral, with over 855,000 views. He confronted her about a display of banned books for Banned Books Week (September 18-24) and demanded that she take it down.
The annual Banned Books Week honors “the freedom to read” by drawing attention to works that have been banned or challenged in the past. The American Library Association (ALA), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Amnesty International USA, and many others all show their support for Banned Books Week.
Mia told the principal that she could not remove the display because she was responsible for “over 700 students, not one student alone.” She also let the principal know that observing Banned Books Week is required by ALA policy.
She says in the video, “…most libraries in the world celebrate Banned Books Week.”
After that, Mia was told to “keep things academic” by the school principal. Mia followed up by inquiring if this meant she couldn’t keep up her other displays, which dealt with topics like superheroes. Some say the principal had no response ready beyond saying he didn’t pay much attention to the displays and that his request was an attempt to curry favor with the parents.
Mia claims that she then informed the principal that the school has a procedure for removing individual books, and that she is available to help the parent with the procedure if they so desire.
Taking away a parent’s freedom is not the point, she says in the video. “It’s not necessary for your kid to read those books. However, this presents a chance to educate and inform children who otherwise might not be exposed to such things.
Mia started crying at this point, and according to reports, the principal told her it was fine to feel sad.
She says she responded, “I’m not upset.” “I’m furious… I’m furious that some people want to ban books that feature minorities.
Eventually, Mia posted a video that showed the entirety of her Banned Books Week presentation.
Bridge to Terabithia, Twilight, and A Complicated Love Story in Space are just a few of the titles highlighted.
Different bans are put in place for different reasons. Mia’s video features a number of themes that are described as “sexually explicit,” “LGBTQIA,” “woke,” and “critical race theory,” an amorphous conspiracy theory that gained traction in conservative circles in 2016.
Mia’s story follows a string of similar reports about conservative groups’ efforts to censor books taught in public schools in the United States.
According to an article published earlier this year by The Guardian, “conservative groups across the US, often linked to deep-pocketed rightwing donors, are carrying out a campaign to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues, or marginalized communities.”
Author Adam Gabbatt states that “groups purporting to be ‘grassroots’ efforts have frequently led the charge,” petitioning school boards or elected officials to remove certain books. Many of the groups involved in banning books are connected, and supported by influential conservative donors, even though some of them present themselves as a local effort that sprang up around groups of parents united behind a cause.
The apparent success of these organizations can be traced back to their willingness to invest resources into publicity campaigns and to promote their leaders through established conservative outlets.
The article uses Asra Nomani, the vice president of Parents Defending Education, as an example because she has “appeared on Fox News to rant against some books, including ‘Woke Baby’ and ‘Gender Queer,’ being in Virginia libraries.”
Even though it calls itself a “grassroots organization,” it has been linked to “deep-pocketed conservative money and influence,” as Gabbatt points out.
Parents Defending Education and similar organizations have made a positive impact. According to NBC News, “books on race and sexuality are disappearing from… schools in record numbers” in Texas, where Mia resides.
A total of 75 formal requests were made by parents or community members to ban books from libraries during the first four months of this school year, according to records requests made to nearly 100 school districts in the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin regions, a small sampling of the state’s 1,250 public school systems. Records show that during that same time period a year prior, there was only one challenge filed against a library book in those districts.
Mia reveals in a follow-up post that her neighborhood is one of those hit.
This is not a problem that has only appeared in my school district. She says, “This is happening all across our school district, from high schools to elementary schools. At this time, one of our high schools has had six books censored by district administrators.
This video also provides an update on her situation with the principal. Mia says the principal conferred with her to reconsider the situation, but they both maintain their original positions. The principal allegedly contacted the worried parent and suggested they have a meeting with the school librarian. According to what Mia was told by the principal, the parent was against the plan and insisted that the administration take action on its own.
A spokesperson for Mia’s school told the Daily Dot that they were unable to comment on the incident in question.
Belton Independent School District’s mission statement reads as follows: “We want every student in Belton ISD to have an exceptional learning experience, and we want every employee in Belton ISD to feel valued, supported, and engaged.” “We are unable to discuss pending personnel matters at this time. The procedure outlined in our policies should always be followed if an employee has a problem at work.”
When Mia posted her story about her banned book on TikTok, many users jumped into the comments to show their support.
“How enraging that one parent thinks their opinion should change the library for the whole school,” one user wrote.
“Way to express your position and maintain your integrity,” someone else commented. “This is critical.
Many people, of course, brought up the obvious irony of trying to remove a Banned Books display, which only served to highlight the significance of the week in the first place.
The very fact that “they want to ban books and censor them is the exact reason why banned book week is so important,” as one user put it, is why we celebrate banned book week.
Mia was contacted by both the Daily Dot’s phone line and email.
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“I’m not mad at you” was posted. It was first reported on The Daily Dot: “I’m enraged”: School administration asked librarian to remove banned books display after one parent complained.
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