A Pennsylvania school district has banned the Girls Who Code book series for young readers, according to an index of banned books compiled by the free-expression nonprofit Pen America.
The books are four of more than 1,500 unique book titles that have been banned by schools across the country after conservative pushes to censor the books. According to a report published by Pen America in April, 138 school districts in 32 states have banned books from their classrooms and school libraries.
A recent update to Pen America’s Banned Books Index said the Central York School District last year banned The Friendship Code, Team BFF: Race to the Finish!, Lights, Music, Code books. ! and Spotlight on Coding Club!. The school district has more than 400 banned titles in the index.
Last year, the Central York School District drew national attention after it banned resources listed as 2020 by its diversity committee, including children’s books and documentaries. A coalition of students and parents successfully pushed the district to reverse its ban after public pressure.
In a statement explaining the ban on the various resources, then school district board chairwoman Jane Johnson said, “What we’re trying to do is balance legitimate academic freedom with what might be overly militant literature/materials. , and may lean more towards indoctrination rather than age-appropriate academic content.
The Central York School District did not immediately respond to request for comment on its banning of the Girls Who Code series.
The series features a group of girls who become friends at their school’s coding club. The series is in partnership with Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that runs computer coding and programming clubs in girls’ schools.
Girls Who Code CEO and Founder Reshma Saujani has expressed her anger over the banning of the series.
“We use these stories to teach kids to code,” Saujani told Business Insider. “It felt very much like a direct attack on the movement we built to get girls to code.
“It’s an opportunity to realize how important this movement is against our children and how much we have to fight for.”
Saujani said the group Moms for Liberty, a conservative nonprofit formed in 2021 that pushed book bans through local chapters across the country, was responsible for the district’s banning of the series. Central York. The organization has advocated for books about race — including those about the civil rights movement — and LGBTQ+ themes to be banned, saying the volumes are “sexually explicit”, according to media watchdog Media. Matters.
Aggressive campaigns to ban books from schools and libraries across the country have erupted during the culture wars of the past two years. While book ban campaigns have always existed in the United States, the movement gained momentum in 2021 when conservatives took aim at the academic theory of “critical race” and turned it into a buzzword to stoke fears that liberal ideals are being taught in the classroom.
According to Pen America’s Banned Books Report, many banned titles deal with LGBTQ+ themes or have non-white characters. The organization estimates that more than 300 groups, including local chapters of national organizations like Moms for Liberty, lobbied for the books to be banned. The bands gained popularity through social media, where lists of tracks circulated.
The campaigns attempt to deflect accusations of racism and bigotry by claiming that they are targeting material that is offensive or inappropriate for children.
Pen America estimates that 41% of banned books deal with LGBTQ+ themes while 40% have protagonists or supporting characters who are people of color.
The author of one of the Girls Who Code books, Jo Whittemore, said on Twitter: “Some people choose not to focus on how great and empowering and inspiring these books are, but instead choose the fear.”