Sep 15, 2022 - News

Students resist banned titles with a book club

Illustration of a stack of books with barbed wire wrapped around them.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

New book club alert: This time, it's for banned books.

Driving the news: A student group at Fort Bend ISD is launching a book club in response to the "senseless book bans and invasion of student privacy."

  • The Banned Book Club, founded by FBISD Equity Coalition and Reading For Liberation, aims to foster a safe space for Houston-area students and alumni to discuss the banned and challenged books, according to Ishmam Alam, a founding member of the coalition.

Catch up quick: Pressure from Republican leaders and parents in Texas and across the country have pushed school districts to review or remove books they've deemed as inappropriate.

  • In the last academic year, there were over 1,700 reviews of books throughout the state, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • The majority of the books explore race, gender and sexuality.

Zoom in: FBISD has seen at least five complaints and one removal, per the Chronicle.

  • Nearby school districts, like Katy ISD, have banned or partially removed at least 40 books.

The intrigue: FBISD announced last month that parents can opt-in to receive notifications of the books their child checks out from the school library.

Flashback: FBISD Equity Coalition was created by a group of students after the murder of George Floyd to advocate for racial and social justice within the school district.

  • The coalition's Instagram page has over 2,000 followers, and provides updates about the school board and gives racial and political insights on current district events.

What they're saying: "I'm really interested to see how individuals react once they start reading these books that have been banned," said Andrew Lu, a senior at Clements High School.

  • "Personally, I want to see what I could possibly be missing out on if my district did choose to ban the books under review."

Details: The book club is for current and former students in the Houston-area school districts.

  • The first book will be "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe, a book that has come under formal review by FBISD and has been banned by several districts.

What's next: There is an info session on Zoom at 1pm Saturday.

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