Books & Libraries

Texas teacher fired for reading from an Anne Frank graphic novel

The state’s teachers’ union said in a statement it would stand by the state’s public school teachers who “teach the truth.”


Courtesy City of Arlington

The statewide union of public-school educators slammed the reported firing of a Texas middle school teacher over a graphic novel as another power grab by lawmakers more concerned with censorship than education.

A teacher from Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District, near Beaumont, was reportedly fired after assigning students to read a graphic adaptation of the "Diary of a Young Girl," more commonly known as the Diary of Anne Frank. Frank kept the diary as she hid with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

"This is what it's like to live and teach in a state more concerned with limiting students' view of the world than making sure the schools they arrive at every day are held together by more than their teachers' own pocketbooks," Nicole Hill, a spokesperson for the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. "Texas educators, however, will continue to do what they have always done: teach the truth. Our union will be by their side, defending their rights to do so."

The teacher, who wasn't identified, was ousted last week, according to CBS affiliate KFDM, which first reported the story. The district told the station it hadn't approved of the graphic novel version of the book.

Public-school advocates say traditional schools are in the state's cross hairs following a new Republican-backed law that would have required book vendors to rate texts provided to public schools based on their sexual explicitness. The law also prohibited libraries from purchasing or having books with "sexually explicit material," which is defined as material "that described, depicted, or portrayed sexual conduct in a way that was patently offensive."

The law was scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, but a federal district judge blocked its implementation, saying that it “misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements."

The state of Texas appealed the ruling earlier this week; the case is pending before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The American Library Association said that in 2022 there were nearly twice the amount of challenges to books and other materials in public libraries, 1,269, compared to 2021, when 729 were reported. Those numbers could be higher, however, because the ALA said that some challenges are not reported to the organization or covered in the press.

Of last year's challenges, "58% targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula; 41% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries," the ALA said in its March report.

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