Moms in Sumner County fight for the 'right to read,' keep books on the shelves

Banned books
Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 23, 2023

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dozens of books in Tennessee public schools are being challenged. Some school boards and parents want to ban books that talk about racism, gender or sexual orientation.

But one Sumner County group wants to protect the "right to read."

Hilary Lounder and Holly Cruz both have kids in Sumner County Schools and both are moms on a mission.

They formed the group Right to Read Sumner County.

"It's important for my daughters and many other students in our county to be able to pick up a book and be able to see themselves represented — not just in the characters, but also in the content of the book that they're reading," said Cruz.

They say it's not a political group; it's one that helps school librarians keep books on the shelves.

"I think removing a book because it makes your family maybe uncomfortable is then taking the book away from my family," Lounder said.

In Sumner County, a parent can opt their children out of reading any book.

A parent can also ask the school to review books they deem inappropriate.

If a parent is unhappy with the committee's decision to keep the book on shelves, they can take it up with the school board. That's exactly what happened back in October.

"Emotions, well that isn't what a school is for. A school is here to teach about reading, writing arithmetic, and the laws of the land," said parent Joanna Daniels during the meeting.

"A Place Inside Me" is a book about a young Black boy who is upset about a police shooting in his neighborhood.

But some parents say the book isn't appropriate for 6-year-olds. They claim it pushes racism, hate, and division.

"I don't want my kids exposed to this. It creates division. It creates racism," said another parent at the meeting.

Ultimately the board disagreed, and the book will remain on the shelves.

But Right to Read knows the battle isn't over, and they plan to keep fighting to keep books on the shelves.

On Tuesday night, the board will discuss whether or not to remove the book "Ways to Make Sunshine." The review board recommended the book stay.

However, some parents say it promotes gender fluidity, misogyny, racism, pessimism, and divisiveness.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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