Tensions over censorship, representation exposed

Illustration by WILLIAM NIES |

In light of the temporary pause of partnership between Storybridge and the Amarillo Independent School District, a storm of debate has followed; raising questions about censorship, inclusivity and education.

At the heart of the matter lies a simple truth; the power of reading, no matter the content, in order to foster empathy, understanding and a broader worldview. According to the Storybride website, “Children who grow up with at least 20 books stay in school three years longer than children without books at home.” 

Storybridge, a foundation dedicated to promoting literacy by providing books to low-income children and their families in the Amarillo area, found itself at the center of scrutiny when a book allegedly contained material that someone deemed “inappropriate.” This single complaint immediately led to the suspension of their partnership with AISD and they are currently pending an investigation into their vetting process. 

Let’s be clear, suspending the gift of reading because of the presence of diverse family structures in a book is not only short-sighted but we, The Ranger staff, find this to be fundamentally wrong. Education is not about shielding students from ideas that some may find uncomfortable or unfamiliar; it is about exposing them to a wide range of perspectives and experiences, helping them navigate the complexities of the world around them. 

Now, while we  do under-stand that those with different beliefs, have more reserved views on the content of the world, let us review the facts: according to the American Library Association, a reported 38% spike in attempts to ban books happened in 2022. Most books that are banned are either about or written by members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color. In plain and simple terms, this is censorship. 

The decision to halt the partnership with Storybridge sends a dangerous message — one that suggests the narratives of queer people and minorities are unwelcome in ASID institutions. This is not only a disservice to the students of Amarillo, but to society as a whole. In a country as diverse as America, it is important that our educational system reflects and celebrates this diversity. 

Furthermore, the notion that individuals can dictate what others can and cannot read based on their own personal beliefs is a troubling manifestation of control. If a parent or guardian objects to a particular book, they have every right to address their concerns with the school and make an informed decision for their child. However, denying access to literature for all students because of the preferences of a few is not only unfair but undermines the very foundation of education. Those who advocate for such measures need to realize that the world does not revolve around their belief system. 

In the grand scheme of things, the controversy in Amarillo serves as just a chip to the larger issues facing our society regarding the struggle for inclusivity, the battle against censorship and the ongoing fight for equality. We must stand on the side of progress and champ-ion the right to education.

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