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Parent now calls to ban Michelle Obama book after Maus ban

Numerous books have already been banned by school boards, including many that feature LGBT characters

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 01 February 2022 21:26 GMT
Related video: Virginia mother threatens to bring ‘every single loaded gun’ to school if county enforces mask mandate

Conservative parents and school officials are driving a new wave of book bans, ostensibly in an attempt to battle Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in K-12 schools.

One parent in Texas is reportedly trying to convince her the Katy School District to remove a book about former first lady Michelle Obama because it promotes “reverse racism” against white people.

A spokesperson for the school district told The Independent that it ruled the book was suitable for students and that it did not intend to ban its use.

The Katy School Board has banned several books, however. Complaining parents targeted books focused on LGBT+ and non-binary youth, as well as those dealing with racism. Many of the books that have already been banned, including Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, and Losing the Girl Book 1 by Mari Naomi, were targeted because they include descriptions of sex and other mature content. The books also include LGBT+ characters.

One parent asked the school board in November why they are “sexualising our precious children”, and complained that the inclusion of LGBT+ narratives in books is causing children to question their gender identities and sexual orientations.

“Why are our libraries filled with pornography?” she asked.

Sexuality is not the only subject matter conservatives parents have complained about; they are also calling for books discussing racism to be banned.

According to NBC News, one parent at the Eanes Independent School District in Austin reportedly wanted Ibram X. Kendi's book How to be an Antiracist to be banned and to be replaced by The Bible, which itself contains descriptions of sex, incest, graphic violence, rape, war, murder, torture, and a scene in which a protagonist calls on bears to maul 42 children who called him bald.

One of the most notable recent book bans targetted Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, a retelling the Holocaust focused on mice – who stand in for Jews – and cats, who play the role of the Nazis. A school board in Tennessee recently banned the book after parents complained it contained nudity and depictions of children being killed.

The push to ban books is an outgrowth of conservative culture war talking points advanced by Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures. Over the past year calls to stop teaching Critical Race Theory – which examines how historical events and societal structures and institutions are viewed by and affected oppressed peoples – became popular in right-wing media and among Republicans campaigning for public office.

CRT is not generally taught in K-12 schools; it is often a component of higher education historical and sociological study. The anger at CRT eventually grew into a larger effort by conservatives to control school curriculums, which includes banning books and intrusive legislation in some areas that would allow parents to watch live streams of their children's classrooms.

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