In January of this year the Prosper Citizen Group Political Action Committee (Prosper PAC), a conservative political action group operating in Prosper, Texas, asked the Prosper Independent School District (PISD) to remove a list of 82 books from their libraries on the grounds that they were sexually graphic, violent and inappropriate for children. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, 50 books were temporarily removed from the PISD and ultimately 30 books were removed from PISD library shelves by March 2022. Many of the books on the list created by Prosper PAC feature LGBTQAI+ characters or discuss gender idenity and/or sexual oreintation. A representative from the Prosper PAC who is also a PISD parent, Aileen Blachowski told localprofiles.com that these books were “designed to pit concerned parents and neighbors against one another…It’s the oppressed/oppressor models of heterosexuals vs those who identify as LGBTQ, whites vs BIPOC, and now parents vs our own kids.” Blachowski also claims that “there is a lot more commonality between us than that which divides us,” stating that, “We all care about our kids getting an authentic education, we want them to be accepted in their uniqueness and we want them to be happy, socially well-adjusted, and contributing members of society. And, we want them to know and experience authentic friendship and love.”
A group of Prosper ISD parents have created a reading group so they can decide for themselves whether these titles should be removed from Prosper schools. One of those parents is Holly Lister Draper who in February posted a review of one of the books from the Prosper PAC’s list, The Pants Project by Cat Clarke, on her Facebook page. She had positive things to say about it, giving it five stars and stating that she wanted her middle school children to read it because of the important lessons it teaches about how to treat others. In her review she also stated that it was clear to her right away why the Prosper PAC objected to the book, because the main character had two mom and was transgender. Draper’s review got over 270 reactions on Facebook, most of them positive and in support of her review. Another member of this reading group. Lisa West, also disagrees with the Prosper PAC assessment of these titles. She said, “In many of the books the only thing LGBTQ is it happens to include a gay character. In one book on the list, for example, there is mention that a main character has a crush on another student of the same sex. That’s it. There is no kissing, not that there would be anything wrong with that, but that didn’t even happen. Just mention of a crush.” Draper said, “One thing my book review posts have taught me is that, while the PAC might be loud, they do not represent most of the people in Prosper ISD. I have had so many people reach out to me privately to thank me for what I am doing with the book reviews.” Will the parents in Prosper start a trend of ‘banned book” clubs among parents?
Tayla Cardillo is the Branch Librarian of the Oak Lawn Branch Library in Cranston, RI. Before her current position she was a YA librarian. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.