New policy allows parents to prompt review of Belton ISD library books

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - Under a new policy, Belton Independent School District parents can now question and lead the district to investigate books they find questionable or inappropriate.

The following books have been in review before the policy took effect:

  • “Gender Queer”
  • “All Boys Aren’t Blue”
  • “Kiss Number 8″
  • “Milk and Honey”
  • “Lawn Boy”
  • “Now That We’re Men”
  • “Cherry”
  • “What Girls Are Made Of”

These titles will now go under the district’s new policy to determine whether they can stay in school libraries. KWTX found that half of these books under review deal with LGBTQ themes or issues.

Anyone over the age of 18, whether parent, staff or student, can now make a formal challenge to the books or any of the library materials in Belton ISD schools.

“There’s a form that they’ll fill out and on that form we thought it was important that we understood who is challenging that book,” Belton ISD School Board President Jeff Norwood said. “Is it a parent? Is it a community member? Is it a teacher? Whoever it is.”

After the complaint is issued, a committee will read the book in its entirety, review it and come to a decision on whether to shelve the title from libraries.

“That committee is going to read that book, they’re going to look at the law, they’re going to look at community standards and they’ll make the decision as to what do we do with this book?” Norwood said.

The committee will be made up of a combination of campus administrators, librarians, teachers and parents. In total, at least five members will be on the committee.

The district’s new policy says books in schools should enrich and support the curriculum; stimulate growth in factual knowledge and represent many ethnic, religious and cultural groups.

Some students are worried that the new way to challenge books will stop the goals from being met.

“These books give us a way to see ourselves in a way that others could not possibly because when representation matters, they feel like they matter,” Emily Lalum, Belton New Tech High School student, said.

Others say the district should create a special committee to review the books on their own and shift the responsibility of community members’ to report inappropriate materials.

“I definitely think there are some advantages to this policy and it is a step in the right direction, but there’s a sense of urgency it skips,” Belton ISD parent Hillary Hickland said.

This new policy does not affect another one that allows parents to determine what books their children can have access to.

If a parent disagrees with a book’s content, they can still simply call the school and prevent their student from checking it out at the school library.