Angry parents have taken to Facebook to condemn a handful of books carried in San Ramon Valley Unified School District libraries, and the pitchforks are coming out for an upcoming school board meeting at which the board is set to discuss banned books.
The current right-wing pushback against public schools carrying books addressing topics of race issues and LGBTQ identity can be summed up with the recent LA Times headline “School librarians vilified as the ‘Arm of Satan’ in book-banning wars.” This all may seem like it’s happening a million miles away (or in Florida), but it takes on a new light with a Bay Area News Group report on a book banning attempts underway at San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
Much of the brouhaha goes back to a January incident, which according to the News Group, happened, “after a video circulated online with unfounded claims that a San Ramon Valley High School teacher disciplined a student with a zero grade after the student refused to read Gender Queer.” That refers to Gender Queer: A Memoir, a graphic novel about coming out as a teen, which has been singled out nationwide as an allegedly ‘obscene’ book in parent complaints around the country. Though paradoxically, this has only made the book more popular.
But the story of a student being punished for not reading it appears to itself be a flimsy tale. “The school was not able to verify the claim and told this news organization no complaint has been filed,” according to the News Group. Moreover, they could find no evidence that this was part of any teacher in the district's curriculum.
Further, the News Group adds that “San Ramon Valley High School’s one copy of Gender Queer was placed in the library in October 2020 and has only been checked out twice, the district confirmed.”
The school board called the hearing at Tuesday night’s meeting to clarify their policy on banning books. No books are scheduled to be banned at the meeting. The district has not banned any books. But one new board member is said to be interested in banning some books, so for better or worse, the district may turn a page.
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