Books Banned by the State Become Accessible at El Paso Public Libraries – The Prospector

Caroline Uribarri

The El Paso City Council has authorized public libraries to make banned books available to the public, including Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give.”

UTEP students applaud El Paso City Council members’ decision to allow public libraries to post a section of banned books and make them available to the public, despite challenges across the state and nation .

“I think history and all these important subjects should be learned by everyone so that children can also learn from it and have opinions,” said Ivan Aguilar, 20, a computer science student at UTEP. .

The article was presented to council by District 2 Representative Alexsandra Annello and was unanimously approved by council members.

“Really important books that talk about history are banned for no other reason than to deprive people of the right to understand history,” Annello told a city council meeting.

The YWCA will donate all books to libraries to ensure that all residents of El Paso have free access to information and literature.

“Not every topic is easy, but it’s incredibly important now than ever to continue to provide access to our community,” Deputy Quality of Life Director Tracey Jerome said at the city council meeting. “Our libraries should be a place of safety and support where they can go to find and have access to all types of information.”

Some parents across Texas and the country have described the banned books as pornographic and/or age-inappropriate because they discuss topics around slavery, sexual abuse, puberty, identity and sexuality. . They demand that these books be removed from public and school libraries.

“Sexual assault and people of color are usually only taught through literature,” Annello said. “It’s not something we sit down with young women and talk about. This is something they unfortunately have to learn on their own through entertainment, and it’s very important that we ensure that this community is as educated as they can be and have the resources what she needs.

Brenda Risch, founder and executive director of the Borderland Rainbow Center, believes that children need access to a diverse library that includes books that represent them to receive a well-rounded education.

“First of all, in terms of representation of different races, racial experiences, LGBTQ+ experiences, like all children should see themselves reflected in their school books. It is part of human rights,” Risch said.

More than 800 books are at risk of being made inaccessible to Texas students by Texas state leaders, including books such as:

  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
  • “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe
  • “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
  • “The Heart Catcher” by JD Salinger
  • “The Hate You Give” door Angie Thomas
  • “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “And Still I Rise: Black America since MLK: anillustrated chronology” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • “The Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears” by Susan E. Hamen
  • “Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

“I think it should be accessible to get these books, just so kids can be aware that it happened, and so they can get more information about it, and it would give them a new perspective or make up their own mind on the subject,” said Susana Tapia, 23, a forensic science student at UTEP.

In December 2021, the Canutillo Independent School District voted to keep Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” (an LGBTQ-themed book) in their libraries despite a parent’s complaint about the book containing sexually explicit content. inappropriate.

“As long as it’s age appropriate, I think kids can access it,” Tapia said. “Once they start to get more curious and start talking about these things, it’s better for them to have information, rather than getting opinions based solely on biased opinions from their family or friends. peers.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to remove banned books from school curricula.

“A growing number of Texas parents are rightly outraged by books and other highly inappropriate content in public school libraries,” Abbott said in a letter to TASB. in the Texas public education system.

Risch believes children need exposure to a variety of ideas and books to help them form their own opinions and learn what best fits their values.

“There’s a group of people who are afraid of change, and what they’ve realized is that literature can inspire things that they can’t control,” Risch said. “They don’t want to change anything; they want everything to stay as it always has been. If you want to stifle change, you must stifle the transmission of information, ideas, the development of imagination and the development of critical thinking.

Displays of banned books are found in all public libraries in El Paso. For information, visit

Victoria Rivas is the arts and culture editor and can be contacted at [email protected]; @VicRivas_18 on Twitter.

Colin L. Johnson