‘The Bluest Eye’ unbanned in Pinellas County schools

PINELLAS COUNTY — The Pinellas County Schools Library Media Review Team met on April 18 to review “The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. The book was administratively removed from school library collections after one mother, who is a private school teacher, and her son exercised their privilege and political connections to secure the book’s banning based on subjective criteria and political ambitions.

On Feb. 14, scholars and parents from Palm Harbor University High School International Baccalaureate Program (IB) appeared before the Pinellas County School Board in opposition to the administration’s book banning.

Both parents and students established that during their meeting with District Administrator Dan Evans, it was apparent the district violated its own policy, was not aware IB students had read the book for several years, and students who did not wish to read the two contested pages of the 244-page book could opt out and teachers would provide alternative reading material.

Every member of the review team, comprised of six library media technology specialists and the district coordinator for library media, read the book in preparation for Wednesday’s meeting. After discussion, the team recommended that the district make “The Bluest Eye” available for self-selection in district library media centers for students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 with no parental permission requirements.

The review team considered factors such as grade-level appropriateness, educational value, parental permission requirements and current state laws and rules. Based on the recommendation from the Library Media Review Team, the book will be put back in circulation in high school libraries across the district this week.

The decision comes on the heels of the reinstatement of Disney’s “Ruby Bridges” film, which was banned after a parent provoked the district’s action toward censorship, and the district failed to follow the process when petitioned.

Pinellas County Schools said in a press release that they would continue to monitor the state legislative session and proposed bills that may impact classroom materials and/or library collections in the future.

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