Parents, students spar over controversial books pulled from North Kansas City school libraries

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The North Kansas City School District says it has pulled two controversial books from its high school’s libraries after outcry from parents.

In response to what they call censorship, students started an online petition that has garnered hundreds of signatures.

“I am shocked and absolutely aggravated at what is in our school systems,” said James Richmond, the president of the Northland Parent Association.

Richmond was speaking before the NKC School District last month about books including “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, and “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel.

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” has been in school libraries since September of 2020. It’s a series of personal essays that reportedly contains graphic depictions of sexual acts between boys, including relatives, and covers sexual abuse.

“Fun Home,” which has been in school libraries since September 2017, is a graphic memoir that reportedly contains sex acts between women.

“That is not something that a minor should have access to,” Richmond said.

Richmond said he speaks for the more than 400 parents that make up the NPA, which he says is also looking at as many as 28 books in other area school districts.

“I really just thought [pulling books off shelves] was ridiculous,” said North Kansas City High School junior Aurora Nicol.

Nicol and senior Holland Duggan recently started the online petition, ‘Students Against Banning Books in NKC District.’ It had nearly 750 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

“I started a petition because I think this is in a library, no one is being forced to read them,” Duggan said.  “And I think every student, especially high school students, should have access to information and choose what they get to read. “

They say they plan to bring the petition and signatures to the next school board meeting.

In a statement, the North Kansas City School District said: “NKC Schools became aware of concerns over two books available in our high schools’ libraries. The books in question were pulled from each of our four high schools while the district conducts a review of processes pertaining to book selection, check-out, and review. NKC Schools provides a variety of books for students and strives for a diverse and engaging collection. We always appreciate and encourage community feedback as the families we serve are valuable partners in student success.”

“They have not actually pulled them from the system so that still leaves the door open that they’re going to put them back in,” Richmond said.

“If you take out a couple books, they’re just going to keep asking for more, and then what is there to read?” Nicol said.

FOX4 spoke with the author of “Boys Aren’t Blue,” activist and journalist, George M. Johnson. He said his book is intended for young adults.

“Thinking that keeping this particular text away from them is going to prevent the things that happened to me from happening to them, no,” Johnson said. “It just means they don’t have the knowledge or the education when those situations occur, and that’s why it belongs in those libraries.”

This isn’t the first time “All Boys Aren’t Blue” has been on a school board agenda.

Last month, the Shawnee Mission School District changed the process for how book complaints are made after fielding questions about the book.

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