COLLIERVILLE, Tenn.– Collierville Schools responded to backlash after it was reported by the Commercial Appeal that more than 300 books dealing with LGBTQ+ topics were pulled from library shelves and reviewed.
While the books are back in the school’s libraries, some students feel betrayed.
Salina Shamsuddin, a junior at Collierville High School, co-founded the Tennessee Youth Coalition to fight legislation she says is a “book banning” bill.
“We’re a group of students who believe firmly that students should have a voice when these decisions are going to impact students,” Shamsuddin said. “I’m a student who’s not LGBTQ. I’m not queer, but students that are they’re not being represented and they know they’re not being represented.”
She was outraged to learn some 300 hundred books with LGBTQ+ topics or titles had been removed from Collierville school libraries and reviewed for content prior to the passage of the measures.
Since the bills were not signed, the books were returned to their shelves.
Collierville Schools released a statement about the situation saying,
On April 6th, our librarians were notified that all books that would possibly be affected by SB1944 and HB0800 were no longer under review as the bills were both sent to summer study and could be returned to the shelves. Please note that these books were not removed from official circulation through our library Destiny system but were pulled from the shelves to begin a review process if the bills were signed into state statute.
Student books are labeled in our checkout software. Those books that contain material that is for “mature readers” or designated “young adult literature” are not available in our elementary libraries and are available in our middle school libraries with parent permission, due to the content. There are no books at the high school level that require parental permission for check out. We are in the process of developing procedures to comply with the Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022 (Public Chapter No. 744), which may include required parental approval for certain materials. We anticipate more guidance from the State Board of Education, the TDOE, and the newly expanded “Textbook and Materials Committee” by December of this year.
The school system also added the books were never removed from official circulation through the library’s Destiny system.
But Shamsuddin believes students have lost faith in the school board and blames them for a lack of open dialogue.
“We can’t change the system without having a hard conversation and without looking at our history and acknowledging all the oppression that took place and that’s exactly what they’re avoiding,” Shamsuddin said.
We were unable to get a list of the books that were reviewed but according to the Commercial Appeal, librarians found 300 books containing sensitive content.