An Iowa school district will be reviewing nearly 400 books that potentially have depictions of sex acts and content on gender identity.
According to the Des Moines Register, the Urbandale Community School District [UCSD] will review 374 books to see if they violate a new state law. The law requires educators and administrators to review books that depict sex acts and prohibits them from purchasing the books. The law, signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, R., in May, also prohibits instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation before seventh grade.
The list of books that Des Moines Register obtained from Urbandale officials includes books that might violate state law, according to instructions provided on the list.
These books have been flagged in other states as problematic, a UCSD official confirmed to Fox News Digital.
The Des Moines Register further reports that books such as “Ulysses,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” and “The Color Purple” have been added to the list to be reviewed for sexual depictions. If they violate the state law and are seen in any of UCSD’s libraries, they will then be removed.
Dena Claire, a UCSD spokeswoman, sent Fox News Digital a statement saying that the list does not represent any books currently in the system, nor is it “an all-inclusive list.” She added that “the curation of the list began with a review of quarantined books from other states who had passed similar laws.”
“We have a process for staff to question a book on the list and/or recommend additional books they feel may apply. As a school district, we must abide by all state laws, including SF496,” Claire told Fox News Digital.
She went on to say, “Our 2023-24 school year began on July 27 as that was the first day of school for our year-round elementary. Knowing we had a school starting, we did not want to put our teachers in a position where they had to guess as to what may or may not be acceptable according to SF496.”
“In the absence of guidance from the Iowa Department of Education regarding implementation of SF496, we had to take a fairly broad interpretation of the law knowing that if our interpretation was too finite, our teachers and administrators could be faced with disciplinary actions according to the new law.”
The list comes after a newly released report revealed that nearly 1,500 books were banned in the first half of the 2022-2023 school year. According to PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans lists, there were 1,477 instances of individual books banned during the first half of the 2022-23 school year.
PEN America recorded more book bans during the fall 2022 semester than in each of the prior two semesters.
PEN America also reports that 30% of the “unique titles” banned are books about race, racism, or feature characters of color. They also note that 26% of unique titles banned have LGBTQ+ characters or themes.
PEN America claimed that they have tracked book-banning efforts for the past two years by documenting the growth of groups advocating for book bans, the widespread challenges to books across the nation, efforts on the local level such as school district policies and procedures, and the state-level policies.
The book ban issue has been prevalent in red states such as Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina, where it was addressed by local school boards.
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