Aug 29, 2022 - News

A Des Moines metro book ban update

Illustration of a bookshelf with rainbow-colored books wrapped in "do not enter" yellow tape.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

No book ban requests have been made in Des Moines and at least four other metro districts since at least February, school officials told Axios last week.

  • That includes Ankeny, West Des Moines, Waukee and Urbandale.

Why it matters: Efforts to remove books is part of a larger cultural war that has been playing out in schools across the nation, Axios’ Russell Contreras reported in January.

  • The recent reprieve in local requests is an indication that content controversies have settled down — at least for now.

Catch up fast: About a half dozen or so books have been at the center of the debate, including in the metro.

  • Educators could have faced prison time under a bill proposed but not passed by Iowa lawmakers this year.

State of play: Ankeny School District removed "Gender Queer" from its collections late last year.

  • Other districts retained the book and multiple other challenged texts.

Yes, but: West Des Moines parent Teri Patrick has appealed to the Iowa Board of Education in her effort to have “Gender Queer” removed from Valley Southwoods Freshman High School.

  • The board in August concluded that Patrick doesn’t have the right to challenge the book because her child was not a student at the time she made the complaint.
  • A final vote is expected Sept. 15 and Patrick’s attorney has indicated the decision could face further challenges.

The bottom line: There’s still more pages to turn by those pushing to ban certain books.


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