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Two Remaining Library Book Challenges Fail
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The two remaining books challenged by a Marlborough Township resident will remain in the Upper Perkiomen High School library. On Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina confirmed that "Beyond Magenta" and "All Boys Aren't Blue" will remain in the library and remain accessible to students without restriction.

           The committees – which examined each book – reached their conclusions in March, according to Farina. She said administrators communicated their decision to Jennifer Beltz on March 25.

            On Dec. 30, Beltz formally asked educators to limit student access to four books in the high school library.  The list included the two above mentioned titles, as well as "Out of Darkness" and "The Bluest Eye."

            One month later, Beltz explained that her goal is to remove them from the library or require parental consent to check them out. She described their content, which includes sexually explicit language, as inappropriate for children. Beltz compared allowing minors to read the books similar to allowing a 13-year-old to see an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian.  "I find that disturbing," she said three months ago.

            School board members didn't make the decision to retain the books. Policy 109 directs district employees to review the books. Farina said at the Jan. 27 workshop meeting that the applicant can appeal the decision to Superintendent Allyn Roche.

            Four teams of educators examined the text of all four books to determine if the books contain educational value and if they are necessary to the library's overall collection, according to Farina, who recruited at least 20 administrators and staff members to work with Principal Robert Carpenter and his assistants, Todd Amsler and Josh Miller, who chaired the review committee.

            "The Bluest Eye," published in 1970, tells the tragic story of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old African American girl from an abusive home. The debut novel by Nobel Prize-winning and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison is now considered an American classic and an essential account of the African American experience after the Great Depression, according to a description at Beltz said Monday that she has read reviews claiming that college students have a hard time processing the book.

            In "Beyond Magenta" (2014), author Susan Kunklin interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and represented them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference, according to the author's website.

            In "Out of the Darkness" (2015), author Ashley Hope Pérez – a 2016 Michael L. Printz Award finalist, one of the highest honors for Young Adult literature – writes the fictional story of a Mexican girl and Black boy falling in love following the real-life 1937 New London school explosion in East Texas, a historical event that killed approximately 300 students and teachers, according to an Oct. 2, 2021 article in the Columbus (OH) Dispatch.

            In "All Boys Aren't Blue" (2020), author George M. Johnson – a journalist and LGBTQ+ activist – explores his childhood and adolescence growing up in Plainfield, N.J. as well as his college years attending an HBCU in Virginia, according to a June 2020 article posted on the website of Deadline, which covers Hollywood.






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