/Madison County restricts books due to parental concerns

Madison County restricts books due to parental concerns

Mississippi News Madison County school officials placed over 20 books in restricted circulation after receiving complaints from parents. To check out the books in the district’s middle, high, and elementary school libraries, students must have parental permission. Gene Wright, Madison County Schools’ director of communications, stated that a team of educators will examine the books to determine if they contain “mature content.” They will then make recommendations to the district leaders. These books could contain content that requires mature thinking in order to understand the literature. Wright stated that parents should work together to determine what books their children are reading. Wright stated, “Our district values free exchange of ideas. We respect parents’ differing views about what reading material is appropriate.” This dispute comes after public debate over funding for Ridgeland library. The mayor of Ridgeland originally said that he withheld the funding because of objections to LGBTQ materials. After months of negotiations, the parties reached an agreement last week. Book bannings nationwide have increased in the past year. They are at an all-time high since the American Library Association began tracking them 20 years ago. According to the association, most of the books that were challenged were written by or about Black people or LGBT people. Madison County School District currently has restricted circulation. The district confirmed that some books are in unchecked condition and that they will provide a complete checkout history for each title in the coming months. According to the district, the books in question were mostly available in high school and middle school libraries. Mass Resistance, an anti-LGBTQ hate organization, celebrated the publication of these books as a victory. Lindsey Beckham was the contact point for Mississippi’s Mass Resistance chapter during Ridgeland library hearings. She first became interested in library content because of her concerns about critical race theory. According to their research, she and other parents looked at the online catalogs of schools for titles that were challenged elsewhere in the country. She stated that the topics being discussed in these books were not appropriate for public schools and she would not recommend them to her children. “Going through these excerpts and reading them, the topics, the dark, very troubling, and very heavy for me even as an adult, were very distressing,” Beckham said. The excerpt was read at the school board’s most recent meeting. A video of it went viral on social media. The books were put in restricted circulation four days later and the principals sent letters to the parents explaining the matter. Dalen Owens Grant is a Madison mother with two children. She doesn’t have any issues with how the district handled the concerns but worries about the future. She said, “My problem with it is that just because they don’t want their kids to read it. I don’t think their parenting ideas should have to be parenting every child.” Grant called it unfair that the list only contains books about minorities. She stated that the libraries will not accurately represent the entire community if the books were removed. Grant stated that even if they get the book they want, if it isn’t ‘The Kite Runner’ right now, there will be another book next week. “I just hope that the school district will be ready,” Grant said. The Madison County School Board intends to present a policy for handling future book challenges at its May 9, meeting.