An outside far-right group, called Pender County Concerned Citizens, asked for 40 books to be removed from Pender County schools’ libraries. In the last week alone, seven books were pulled from four schools in the county.
“None of the books on this list were challenged by any parent of anyone that goes to the school so because of that, we weren’t looking at Policy 3210 which is our reconsideration of instructional material policy, so none of those were being reviewed for the purposes of banning at any time,” Craig Lawson, director of Digital Learning and Media, told WECT.
Pender County Concerned Citizens is one of many far-right education groups stationed across the state that have coordinated with other extremist groups such as Pavement Education Project (PEP), NHC Concerned Citizens, and NHC Moms for Liberty.
In the past few years, book bans have swept the nation’s schools as Republicans and right-wing activist groups are targeting books that highlight Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ experiences and voices.
According to a banned book report by PEN America, from July 2021 to June 2022 there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned in the U.S., impacting nearly 4 million students enrolled in the districts included in the report.
An October poll, conducted by Embold Research and commissioned by the nonprofit EveryLibrary Institute, found that 75% of voters are opposed to the right-wing efforts underway to ban books.
“It’s concerning to me that we have prize-winning literature that is written by Nobel laureates like the example of Toni Morrison that is being removed,” stated Jacob Borin, a high school graduate from one of Pender County schools.
According to WECT, school leaders have not shared the reasons why each title was removed.
“I’m not really appeased, and I’m not really content with the answer we got,” stated Borin. “The original issue was that an outside political group made this proposition, and we’ve just seen tonight that we have books that have been removed. I think that opens a door for groups to come in and expect that.”
As of now, the following schools have banned certain books, including:
- Burgaw Middle School removed three of four books, including “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.
- Pender High School reviewed 18 books and removed only one, “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas.
- Topsail Middle School reviewed six titles and removed three, including “Go Ask Alice” written by an anonymous author, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein.
- West Pender Middle School had two titles under review and decided to remove one, “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher.