The Lexington 2 school district has reviewed 30 books in school libraries in the Cayce-West Columbia district in response to complaints from parents.
As of Tuesday, Lexington 2 confirmed 17 books have either been removed by a school principal, a review committee or the school board. Another 10 were put back on district shelves after a review, while three more still remain under review.
The decision comes amid controversies that have emerged this year in schools across South Carolina and around the country around what books are or should be available for students to read.
When a book is challenged by a parent in Lexington 2, it is first read and reviewed by a school-level committee, which then forwards its recommendation to a district-level committee. That committee will then read the book and study any relevant information before making its own decision on whether to keep or remove the book.
“District committees review books against criteria including the book’s purpose and the value of the whole, its alignment with district material selection guidelines, and a variety of reviews and perspectives from regional and national sources, as well as any awards and recognitions the book has received,” district officials said in response to questions from The State.
The committee’s decision can be appealed to the school board, which has the final say. The Lexington 2 school board so far has overruled the review committees to remove two books, agreed to retain three and added additional restrictions on three others. Another three books are under appeal to the school board.
The district said that while all challenged books were listed in the school district’s database, not all were necessarily in circulation or available for checkout at the time of the challenge. Some may have previously been removed from library shelves by the school’s principal, officials said. In some cases, members of the review committee could find only one copy to share between them.
“Principals ultimately have oversight on books in their collections,” the district said. “They may evaluate any library book or material brought to their attention, based on factors including board policy. In the cases of these books removed by principals, the principals decided, based on age appropriateness, to keep the books out of circulation.”
Removed by the school principal
▪ A Court of Silver Flame
▪ Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex
▪ It’s Perfectly Normal
▪ Last Night at the Telegraph Club
▪ Me and White Supremacy: Young Reader’s Edition
▪ Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against White Supremacy
Removed by a review committee
▪ Assassination Classroom
▪ Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope
▪ Both Sides Now
▪ She, He, They, Them
▪ They She He Me: Free to Be!
▪ This Book is Anti-Racist
▪ Too Bright to See
▪ Unicorn Playlist
Currently under review by a committee
▪ The Bluest Eye
▪ The Witch Boy
▪ Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, Being You
Retained by a review committee
▪ Stamped (For Kids)
Retained by committee, currently under appeal
▪ A Good Kind of Trouble
▪ The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person
Retained by school board
▪ Bathe the Cat
▪ Ellen Outside the Lines
▪ Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice
▪ Me and White Supremacy (retained at high school level)
▪ The Passing Playbook (retained at high school level)
▪ The Hate U Give (retained at high school by committee, retained for 11th and 12th grade by board)
Removed by school board
The decisions come as school districts around the state are grappling with challenges to books. In Beaufort County, 97 titles were pulled from school library shelves last year. Lexington-Richland 5 briefly removed the children’s book “Black is a Rainbow Color” before a review committee deemed it appropriate for young students.
School administrators in the same district later halted an English lesson on the book “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates over concerns it violated state legislation banning the teaching of concepts associated with critical race theory.
Earlier in September, S.C. Education Superintendent Ellen Weaver ended the state’s working relationship with the S.C. Association of School Librarians over the group’s opposition to the removal of books. The group’s president later resigned.
In May, the Pickens County School District was sued by three parents and the NAACP over its decision to remove the book “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit called it an act of “racially motivated censorship.”
A review committee in Lexington 2 decided to keep a young readers’ version of the book in schools.