Students in school districts across southern Pennsylvania are fighting against one of the latest examples of panic over the ways history and race are taught in schools across the US.
The York, Pa. school district put out a book ban which includes a children’s book on Rosa Parks, CNN’s Sesame Street town hall on racism and the biography of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.
“I don’t think a moral compass will let you ban books about equality and loving each other,” Christina Ellis, a senior at Central York High School told CNN.
Ellis, who is Black, added that she was “deeply hurt” after hearing about the book ban, “which hurts Black and brown authors and resources.”
While students like Ellis are protesting the ban, parents across the district remain divided.
On Monday, students, parents and community members joined a virtual school board meeting to debate whether or not the list of anti-racism books and resources, which were initially banned last year, went overboard.
The ban, which was put into place last October, was put in place unanimously by the all-white Central York school board.
This divide in the community is just the latest in a string of similar incidents across the US since the discussion over teaching anti-racism and critical race theory in schools became a matter of major tension across party lines.
After the events of last summer’s global racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd however, more and more young people like those protesting the book ban in York are understanding the importance of teaching accurate American history in schools.
Edna Gupta, a senior at Central York High School, told CNN that the book ban “was a slap in the face.”
“This is a board that after hearing their students’ concerns about diversity in the district, hearing my struggle with race, being an Indian American and consistently feeling like I didn’t belong. After all those conversations for weeks on end, they still pursued the book ban.”
For now, school officials are saying that the materials are not banned, but are rather “frozen” while the board reviews the material — a process that has taken nearly a year. On Monday, school district leaders said that the materials are still prohibited.