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Northland student group says 32 books are in danger of being banned. Here they are

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Students in the North Kansas City School District earlier this month launched a petition to combat attempts by a Northland Parent Association to have certain books pulled from school library shelves that they deemed inappropriate for high school students.

Two of the books already pulled from North Kansas City School library shelves are memoirs by queer authors: “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, which tells the story of Johnson growing up as a gay, Black man in New Jersey and Virginia, and “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, which revolves around Bechdel’s adolescence, where she explored her sexuality and family dynamics.

The district said it temporarily pulled the two books while it reviewed them and the parents group’s objections.

“All of the books they have targeted have a clear bias toward people of color, women, or LGBTQIA+ people,” the petition says.

The student petition lists 32 books that have either been banned or in the process of being banned from school libraries across the Northland and Kansas City metro area. The other 30 books listed by the Northland Student Association are currently being reviewed by school administrators.

Here are a few at risk of being banned:

  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison tells the story of a young Black girl in Ohio grappling with family abuse, racism and colorism following the Great Depression era. The book has won a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize. It topped American Library Association’s 2020 list of books most often at risk of being banned.

  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood centers a young woman whose rights have been stripped away in a futuristic society where women are property of the state. The book has received a sequel, which is also being reviewed by Kansas City Schools, and adapted for a television show on Hulu, a streaming platform.

  • “Fences” by August Wilson is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning play and was adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington in 2016. The book explores themes of race and class by following a Black man in Pittsburgh as he tries to support himself and his family in the 1950’s.

  • “Heavy” by Kiese Laymon is a memoir that revolves around Laymon’s experiences as a Black man struggling with his weight and as a victim of sexual violence in Jackson, Mississippi. The book has won an Andre Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non Fiction.

  • “The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie tells the story of a Native American teenager and aspiring cartoonist coming to terms with adolescence at an all-white public school. The book explores themes of racism and classism.

  • “Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard” by Alex Bertie, is a memoir that follows Bertie through adolescence grappling with his gender identity and transitioning as a transgender teenager.

  • “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas follows a Black teenager who witnesses a police officer killing her friend, another Black student. This book also appeared on ALA’s 2020 and 2018 list for books experiencing the most censorship.

Other books on the list include:

  • “#MurderTrending”

  • “Black Girl Unlimited”

  • “Breathless”

  • “Crank”

  • “Dead End”

  • “Flamer”

  • “Gender Queer”

  • “Lawn Boy”

  • “Living Dead Girl”

  • “Looking For Alaska”

  • “Out of Darkness”

  • “The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives”

  • “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky”

  • “The Haters”

  • “Perks of Being a Wallflower”

  • “The Testaments”

  • “This Book is Gay”

  • “This One Summer”

  • “Anger is a Gift”

  • “Blended”

  • “Lily & Dunkin”

  • “Monday’s Not Coming”

  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” (graphic novel)

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