Forsyth County Schools announced that high schools will have the choice to bring back seven of the eight books the district removed from libraries in January.
Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Caracciolo said the district did a second review of the books over the summer after they were removed from all school media centers “indefinitely” for containing “sexually explicit content.”
As part of the review, teachers, media specialists, students and parents volunteered to each read two books and provide feedback to the District Media Committee, which makes decisions and book removals, on:
● The quality of content in the book and the manner of presentation;
● The level of user appeal and interest;
● Whether the book is appropriate for middle and/or high school;
● Whether the book supported the implementation of state standards;
● And whether the book supports the goals of FCS as identified in the district’s strategic plan and learner profile.
The committee reviewed the feedback and voted to allow seven of the books at the high school level, Caracciolo said. The book that wasn’t approved is “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson, a memoir about the author’s journey growing up as a queer Black man in the U.S.
Forsyth County Schools told high school principals and media specialists on Monday, Aug. 15, that they could return the books to the library “if desired.”
As of Friday afternoon, Caracciolo said none of the seven books are in the district’s high school libraries.
The seven books include:
● “Looking for Alaska” by John Green;
● “L8r, g8r,” by Lauren Myracle;
● “Me Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews;
● “Nineteen Minutes,” by Jodi Picoult;
● “Out of Darkness,” by Ashley Hope Perez;
● “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison;
● “The Infinite Moment of Us,” by Lauren Myracle.
The district removed the eight books in January after a parent notified Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden and the Forsyth County Board of Education with concerns of sexually explicit material in books offered at some media centers.
The concerns prompted Bearden to ask school staff members to review any material they believed may contain sexually explicit content. They generated a list of 15 books to review and chose eight to be removed from all Forsyth County school media centers “indefinitely.”
Caracciolo said the district planned to review the books again to determine if they should be allowed at the high school level.
The removal of the books brought a nationwide debate surrounding library censorship in Forsyth County, and many parents, students and community members began attending local school board meetings to speak about the issue.
This debate led state legislators to pass Senate Bill 226, which will require school systems across the state to enact an expedited complaint resolution policy to review and remove media center books that may be inappropriate for students.
For more information about the district’s book review process, visit www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.