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'It breaks my heart that we're just muting those voices' | Leander ISD teachers push against banning books

Leander ISD said it removed six books from Student Book Club reading lists after complaints.

LEANDER, Texas — Some Leander ISD teachers are fighting against book-banning in the school district after parent complaints pushed LISD to remove several books from Student Book Club reading lists. Some teachers spoke up at a recent board meeting and said banning books is "blatant censorship."

"We are happy to answer any questions and accommodate your requests, but we're professionals and I don't think we deserve to be disparaged or our reputations attacked online," said Stephanie Martin, an LISD teacher.

Leander ISD said its Citizen's Curriculum Advisory Committee will continue evaluating books and said its intention is to encourage independent reading with a variety of topics, voices and cultures. 

"We look forward to refining our process to ensure these goals are met while respecting the concerns of those in our community," said a spokesperson for the school district. 

"It breaks my heart that we're just muting those voices," said Martin. 

Zach Long is another LISD teacher who spoke out against the banning of books in March's board meeting. Long said the removal of books makes no sense to him if the books clubs are a choice. 

"We were not here to fight and launch an attack and have a war. We're here to come to a resolution," said Long. 

Essentially, in the LISD book clubs, students can pick one book from a list of 15. The memoir "In the Dream House" by Carmen Maria Machado caught many eyes because the book describes multiple graphic sex scenes.

Some parents at the March board meetings said they found the book to be inappropriate for school. 

"I find it goes against my values and my family's values in what we teach our children," one parent said at the meeting. 

"We remove something from the curriculum. We're restricting access to it," said Long.

"What are we saying to our kids? 'No, those stories don't matter. They're being taken away from you,'" said Martin. 

For more information on the Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC), click here.

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