York, Pennsylvania
(Christian Hinkle/Shutterstock)

Pennsylvania School Board Reverses Ban on Books Meant To Teach About Diversity and Inclusion

School board officials in the south-central Pennsylvania town of York have backed down on their original plan to ban all books about race, social justice and racial history from libraries in the school district.

The Hill’s Joseph Choi reported that the “all-white Pennsylvania school board this week voted to rescind its ban on books having to do with race and social issues after students protested the decision.”

The ban originated last October when the York School District 1 Board voted to censor all books and written materials from Black and Latino authors focused on race, social justice or critical race theory.

“During protests earlier this month, students accused the board of ignoring conversations about diversity and equality,” Choi reported. “Teachers and libraries also said the ban made their jobs harder as it made them scared for their job security.”

Officials estimate that approximately 32% of the York School District 1 student body is comprised of minorities.

The local York Daily Record reported that the school board’s decision to rescind the ban came a little more than a week after they initially refused to consider reversing their decision.

Their change in direction appears to be the result of ongoing pressure from students, parents and alumni, who have repeatedly called the board’s actions “disgusting,” “unethical” and “immoral.”

Following the board’s decision to rescind the ban, York School District 1 Board President Jane Johnson released a statement saying the board’s original policy was all a “misunderstanding,” claiming they only wanted to “freeze” access to the books until they could be reviewed and never meant to ban them permanently.

According to Choi, Johnson claimed “the board had been meaning to quickly review the books that had been banned but acknowledged ‘it didn’t happen.’”

Marie Damiano, a former member of the school board, disagreed with that assessment, however. She told the Daily Record that the board’s statement and change in direction after public scrutiny were “very, very sneaky.”

“It’s not transparent,” Damiano said. “This was a ban on books. This board has a problem with anybody and anything that is different from them.” 

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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