COLUMBUS, Ohio — Over the last couple of years, school board meetings concerning curriculum and books have received a lot of attention. The issue over books has become so hotly contested that it has created a divide among parents.

What You Need To Know

  • Katie Paris of Red, Wine and Blue said they want parents who struggle with content in school library books to opt their kids out of reading certain books versus taking away school access

  • Book Ban Busters gives people a chance to track states where book challenges and removals have occurred

  • Marla Phillis of Moms for Liberty said they want transparency and to make sure kids are protected

  • Phillis’ message for authors is that they should continue writing what they need to write, but shouldn’t be offended if parents aren’t ready to have certain conversations before they’re ready

Katie Paris, founder of Red, Wine and Blue, said she heard so much about problems with book content that her organization created what’s called Book Ban Busters.

As a result, the national network of suburban moms would not only focus on arming moms with the support needed to protect diversity, equity and inclusion programs in schools, but they’d also provide resources to address book challenges. Plus, they’d provide mom-to-mom training, to help people learn how to engage in school board meetings when the issues came up.

So far, some book challenges and removals surprised Paris because they’ve been on the shelves all along and didn’t cause a stir until the last couple of years, including books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges.

“We were just consistently seeing that the books either had to do… they were almost always by Black authors or LGBT authors,” Paris said. 

While Paris sees the book challenges and bans from K-12 shelves as an attack on kids’ education, kids’ futures and democracy by the far right, others like Marla Phillis, vice chair of Franklin County’s chapter of Moms for Liberty, said that’s not the case.

Phillis said their aim is to protect kids, especially against sexually explicit material, along with parental rights, all while pushing for transparency in schools.

“We do support the process of questioning books that are in school libraries and we’re only talking about school libraries,” Phillis said.

That questioning includes going to administration, noting the book and problem and asking for a community book review to determine if it’s okay or “Maybe you decide we didn’t know this was in here, it needs to go. Or maybe you decide that it goes in a special section of the library where, if the kid comes, check it out. The librarian says ‘I’m gonna call your mom and dad because it has some pretty adult content.’”

She noted there is a place for books in public libraries and for anyone that wants to ban books is “on the wrong side of history.” 

While both Phillis and Paris are for parental rights, Paris said, “The books that are being challenged are almost never a part of the curriculum.”

Paris believes that if a parent disagrees and feels a book is inappropriate for their child, it is absolutely their right to not let them read it.

“If it is assigned, they can request for their teacher to assign an alternative,” she said. “If it’s just in the library, a parent can request that their child not be able to check that book out. I just don’t want that parent to be able to take that opportunity away from everyone else’s kids, too.”