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Why Do Teens Hate Book Bans? (According to a Dual Enrolled Student)

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Teenagers are not stupid. Shockingly, we are free thinkers too. Although this may seem obvious to most, conservative groups such as Moms for Liberty remain purposely obtuse to this fact. Like many of my fellow teens, I am sick of it.

For one, book bans have ripped away many opportunities that were once available to Floridian high schoolers. At my own high school, we are unable to have a book club or meaningfully discuss books in the classroom due to the arbitrary policies introduced by book bans. These policies also add more to the strain endured by educators, who are already severely underpaid and overworked to begin with. 

Simply put, book bans have never been about protecting the youth or upholding our education system; they have always been about asserting dominance. The implication that books that discuss societal issues, such as Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes,” are ‘inappropriate’ for youth proves conservatives right but only in the most crude and benign sense. 

A graphic adaptation of  “Anne Frank’s Diary” was recently banned in Indian River County schools. If you have a modicum of social awareness, you may be asking why an edition of “Anne Frank’s Diary,” of all books, was banned from a school library. The marble statues depicted in it were supposedly ‘sexually explicit’.

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If it isn’t clear already, the concern that the piece was inappropriate for children is inauthentic. If this were false, Moms for Liberty would have targeted anything other than an adaptation of “Anne Frank’s Diary.” I have a hard time believing that a group of adults are so ill-equipped to consume literature that they are genuinely unable to distinguish an author’s intent in describing (or illustrating) a scene. Especially when these are the same adults who high-five and celebrate each time a new book is banned. It cannot be said enough that these restrictions are inherently malicious. 

However, it isn’t just students who should worry about book bans, parents should too. Florida law states that parents have the right to “…direct the education and care of his or her minor child…” Nowhere does it state that other parents have the right to decide what is or isn’t appropriate for other children’s education. Books aren’t being removed from libraries for one minor; they are being removed for all of us, regardless of whether we are nine or seventeen. A parent is well within their right to decide that they don’t want their child to read a certain book, they don’t have the right to decide that for other parents or their children. 

Legislators will denounce critics of book bans by crying that their self-imposed embargoes don’t stop any work’s production or availability in stores. While this is true, it honestly doesn’t matter. Book bans are taking away pieces that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds may have not been able to access otherwise. Whether that be due to not being able to afford the book itself, a lack of transportation due to working parents or some other reasons. To those students, books being ‘restricted’ isn’t much different from them being banned. 

According to the AAA State of Play, Florida is currently ranked second in terms of having the largest amount of banned books. If nothing is done, there is no telling when we will top out at one. Now, that’s what I call ‘Land of the Free’. 

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    Sharrilee MattmillerDec 25, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    American people are ashamed to admit that they behaved badly. Banning books won’t be a solution to the problem of being found out in future generations.