(NEW YORK)– One day before the start of the start of the 2022 school year, the Keller Independent School District in Texas has ordered school officials to remove all copies of previously challenged books – including the Bible, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Walter Mosley’s 47 – from school shelves and from the districts’ online library catalog.

In response to the news, Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, said: “The sweeping attempt to remove these titles from classrooms and libraries on the eve of a new school year is an appalling affront to students’ First Amendment rights. It is virtually impossible to run a school or a library that purges books in response to any complaint from any corner.”

Last year, the Keller district established a committee to review dozens of books that had been challenged by parents and community members, and it maintains a list of the challenged titles. On Tuesday, the district directed school officials to remove all of the challenged books from their classrooms and libraries — including all those that had been designated to remain available in schools through the district’s committee process.

Friedman continued: “This directive tramples on the work of the committee members who opted to keep these books available in schools when they were challenged, and it even means removing works for which complaints were apparently withdrawn, such as for the Bible. The whole situation reflects trends across the country toward educational censorship, a recipe for anodyne schools and lowest-common denominator education. This directive from Keller ISD ought to be repealed immediately.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.