STEPHAN DAVIS: Scholastic apologizes for creating segregated book collection lists

Scholastic, a prominent publishing company with a long history of providing books to students and schools, has issued an apology over its decision to create a separate list of books categorized by race, gender, and sexuality.

The policy, announced just last month, sought to address what Scholastic cited as “book bans” occurring in various parts of the United States. The company decided that it would compile a collection of 64 books that included themes some states may want to restrict in classrooms, allowing schools to choose whether or not to include them in their book fairs.

Scholastic explained its decision by pointing to the recent legislation in over 30 U.S. states that seeks to prohibit specific types of books from being present in schools.

“There is now enacted or pending legislation in more than 30 U.S. states prohibiting certain kinds of books from being in schools – mostly LGBTQIA+ titles and books that engage with the presence of racism in our country. Because Scholastic Book Fairs are invited into schools, where books can be purchased by kids on their own, these laws create an almost impossible dilemma: back away from these titles or risk making teachers, librarians, and volunteers vulnerable to being fired, sued, or prosecuted.”
Scholastic Press Release

However, the move to separate these books was promptly followed by outrage from groups on the left. Many activists took to social media to criticize Scholastic for voluntarily categorizing these books and adhering to the so-called “book bans” that have been enacted by these states. In response to the mounting public pressure, Scholastic decided to abandon this policy and issued an apology.

“We understand now that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion,” Scholastic responded in a statement.

“It is unsettling that the current divisive landscape in the U.S. is creating an environment that could deny any child access to books, or that teachers could be penalized for creating access to all stories for their students.”

It is important to note that the “book bans” referenced in this controversy primarily involve school districts removing books from public schools that contain explicit sexual or pornographic content. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education recently explained that some of the books on Scholastic’s list, specifically some about race issues, do not even violate the state’s current laws about what topics can be taught in school.

“This is a political stunt by a corporation prioritizing activism over the well-being of children,” the Florida spokesperson explained.

This piece first appeared at TPUSA.

Image: Title: Scholastic