Plattsmouth students protest school board’s decision to review dozens of library books

Plattsmouth High School students protested the review of LGBTQ+-themed books Wednesday.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 12:14 PM CDT
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PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (WOWT) - The American Library Association says books with LGBTQIA+ themes remain some of the most likely targets of bans or attempted bans at schools and libraries around the country.

A group of high schoolers is hoping their school won’t fall into the pattern.

Wednesday morning, several dozen students gathered outside their Plattsmouth High School, skipping their morning classes, to make their voices heard.

“One, two, three four, ban those books no more!” they chanted, holding signs with slogans like “books open minds,” and “censorship is the child of fear.”

The protest comes after the Plattsmouth Community Schools board considered a potential ban on dozens of books around the district, including 52 from Plattsmouth High School’s library.

“There’s ‘Looking for Alaska,’ by John Greene; ‘George’ by Alex Gino,” said high-school junior Ciara Basch, who helped organize Wednesday’s event.

Basch’s co-organizer, Carlee Petereit, listed several more books that the school is considering removing:

“‘The Cranks’ by Ellen Hopkins — just about all of Ellen Hopkins books in our libraries were taken out. Some Colleen Hoover books, too,” she said.

Right now, the books are under review. It comes after complaints and concerns of ‘unacceptable material’ in the school district, according to the district’s website.

“I had seen it happening in Florida and I kind of [thought] oh, it won’t happen here, since we’re such a small town,” Basch said.

“It made me kind of, very upset. the books were not, I couldn’t understand why they were taken out,” Petereit added.

Students say most of the books pulled from the shelves relate to the LGBTQIA+ community or talk about things like sexual encounters, rape, or drug and alcohol use.

Student organizers say it’s important to have access to these materials, as some people relate to them.

“There are a lot of things that students in our building have experienced themselves, so taking them out was kind of just pushing what they have experienced themselves under the rug sort of thing,” Petereit said.

These students hope the district and board members will hear them, and offered potential alternatives to banning the books.

“Something of like a waiver that says, ‘My child under the age of 17 can read these books,’” Basch said.

“Or possibly also having warnings on the front of the books or the spine of the books just to let people know that what they’ll be reading may have content they don’t want to read,” Petereit added.

The Plattsmouth Superintendent Richard Hasty says the district’s legal team has determined that pulling the books from the shelves while they’re under review is a reasonable approach, but didn’t say how long a review might take.