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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

What is happening to Intellectual Freedom in Tennessee?

Sometimes I’m simply frustrated with acts occurring around me. Take the article in the Tennessean today on "‘Salacious’ book list removed from school web sites." It seems one parent and board member objected to some of the titles on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list which was included in 2 schools’ Summer Reading Lists, and had it removed from their district web site. 

Is this censorship? The books haven’t been challenged, but access to one of the best lists for young adults has been denied to these students. This is just one step in a small group of people denying others the freedom to explore their interests and locate books that may not be locally available. 

I think if we started going through the lists of titles that ARE promoted by this district, someone would object to everything. As the late Gerald Hodges taught me, once "everyone" has finished removing every title they object to, the remaining book would be so utterly boring that he’d have to object to it, also. 

Another instance of what’s happening in the background:  ACLU Sues To Stop Tennessee Schools From Censoring Gay Educational Web Sites. Filtering Software Allows Anti-Gay Sites. More information about the case, including the ACLU’s complaint and a video featuring one of the student plaintiffs, is available online at: www.aclu.org/lgbt/youth/39346res20090413.html 

I’m sorry to say that my district is one of those being sued. Those of you who have worked with me before know that I am a passionate advocate for school librarians within the building having the capability of bypassing the filters to provide access at the local level. I lost that ability last year. Many of you never had it.

What frightens me more is to read the comments on the local newspaper. Sometimes I cannot believe the prejudicial, hateful comments that are shared. But I will not take away anyone’s right to express their opinion. Sometimes you need to lift the rock and expose those critters to the light.