Austin/ Politics & Govt
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Published on March 22, 2024
Lake Travis ISD in Texas Axes "The Haters" from School Library Amid Book Content ControversySource: Facebook/LTISDSchools

The debate over age-appropriate literature in Texas schools hit a peak this past Wednesday at Lake Travis ISD, where officials decided the fate of two contentious books in their high school library. Author Jesse Andrews' "The Haters" was voted 4-2 to be shelved while "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" survived the cull, remaining accessible to students although it too sparked its share of controversy over language and sexually explicit content, according to KVUE.

The school board session stretched for hours, densely packed with a crowd that aired their grievances and support in a room that bore witness to an impassioned clash of values, many students argued for their capacity to pick their reads, believing they were mature enough to digest the narratives and the parents on the other side, raised concerns over vulgarity and explicit content being accessible to minors. Phillip Davis, serving on the board, saw past the books' coarse language, believing in their literary merit and their reflection of teen communication: "The dominant theme of the book is not that,” Davis said, also remarking, despite "some discussion — there is descriptions of sexually explicit scenes in the book — that's not what the book is about."

Notably, the case of "The Haters" and "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" came under the microscope following objections from Jodie Dover, a parent of two elementary students within the district who appealed the earlier decision by a review committee to retain the books. Dover underscored her stance to the board: "It's not removing them from circulation," “It's not book banning. It's not book burning. It's doing what adults do and determining what is right for children," she told Austin American-Statesman.

On the side of preserving the books, students expressed their concerns, typified by high school freshman Aahana Shukla who designated herself a defender of literature diversity in the school's arsenal of books saying she wanted to speak to the board because she disagrees with removing books from the high school. This current school year has already seen three books either banned or relegated from school shelves in Lake Travis ISD, a district procedure that allows individuals to raise formal challenges against available literature if they find them objectionable, as detailed by KVUE. There was no certain word on when "The Haters" would be pulled from the library's collection.