A school district in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, has demanded that an illustrated version of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” as well as the Bible and dozens of other titles, be removed from its shelves and digital catalogues.
“Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” is a 2019 illustrated retelling of the famous diary from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman and illustrator David Polonsky. The school district in question is The Keller Independent School District in Keller, Texas, where a district executive named Jennifer Price requested the removal of the book and others in an email, a copy of which was obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, who originally reported the news.
“By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms,” Price, who is Keller ISD’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, reportedly wrote in the email.
The action comes after conservative activist parents and school board members challenged the content of these books. Objections reportedly included depictions of the LGBTQ community and perceived links to critical race theory. The removal of these texts has sparked backlash from certain community members.
“It’s disgusting. It’s devastating. It’s legitimate book banning, there’s no way around it,” Laney Hawes, a parent of four children in the Keller district, told the outlet. “I feel bad for the teachers and the librarians.”
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Parents initially spoke out against the Anne Frank text in February, though the district did not take any action at that time. Hawes is among a group of parents that review book challenges as a committee.
“When we got ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ we thought, ‘This is a joke.’ But it wasn’t,” Hawes said. She noted that the specific complaint warned that “the book shouldn’t be read without parent supervision.”
Hawes believes the initial objections may have been rooted in the book’s references to sexual matters, though she could not confirm this because the parent who challenged the book was not present for the meeting. The committee did not remove the book at the time. But in May, a new majority was won on the school board following elections with the recently installed leadership ordering the removal of the aforementioned titles.
“Right now, Keller ISD’s administration is asking our campus staff and librarians to review books that were challenged last year to determine if they meet the requirements of the new policy,” the district said in a statement to JTA. “Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy.”
Other books that will be removed while they are under the new review process include Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” and Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.”