Central York School District reverses book ban after growing protests
(ABC News) - After weeks of protest, the Central York School District has decided to reverse a controversial book ban. In August the district sent out an email to staff with a list of resources they were told not to use in the classroom. The list included dozens of books, websites, and movies about race and racism — many by Black authors.
When students in the district learned about the ban they held a series of protests, asking the district to reverse it.
On Monday they joined with teachers, parents, and community members to continue that fight. High school senior Christina Ellis has been one of those leading the charge. “When we see wrong, we do something about it. And that is why we are out here today,” Ellis said.
Delma Rivera-Lytle a Central York School District diversity education specialist says she helped put the original list together as a resource to be used by those in the district. She was shocked when board members decided to ban it.
“This is not the central I know. This is not who we are. We are not a school district that should be seen as racist or divisive. We are a school district that really does support diversity,” Rivera-Lytle said.
In a meeting on Monday Central York School Board president Jane Johnson insisted the whole situation was a misunderstanding.
“What we were attempting to do is balance legitimate academic freedom that could be literature materials that are too activist in nature and may lean more towards indoctrination rather than age-appropriate academic content,” Johnson said.
To students like Edha Gupta, who has been helping lead the protests, the issue is personal.
“This ban is a dagger in my heart. I no longer recognize the Central anymore, the inclusive loving diverse central that has been a part of my life since preschool,” Gupta said.
Public speakers continued their calls for a reversal during the meeting.
“We need an antiracist curriculum because no child should have to be teased because they have a different religion or their skin color is different,” one speaker said.
After hearing from several speakers some of the board members apologized that they hadn’t taken action sooner. They unanimously voted to reverse the ban.
Tim Strickler and Kyle King were two of the board members who spoke about the ban.
“I don’t believe it was or is helpful to hold up an entire list. Period,” Strickler said.
“I believe today is a step to healing this district and an opportunity to grow even stronger as a community,” King said.