Collierville Schools removes LGBTQ+ books

Milana Kumar, a junior at Collierville High School, said removing books from shelves without parents’ knowledge hurts trust between students and teachers.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. –Collierville schools are under intense scrutiny after removing more than 300 books from school libraries, according to a report by the Commercial Appeal.

All the while, a Tennessee bill banning LGBTQ+ books was being considered by lawmakers last spring.

“It was surreal because most of the time I feel like it’s easy to detach from the decision-making and decision-makers that are on the Capitol in my life,” said Milana Kumar, a student at Collierville High School.

Kumar testified in April against Senate Bill 1944which would ban books deemed “obscene”.

More than 300 books are said to have been removed and placed in the councillor’s office, with district officials suggesting some categories be removed permanently.

“I think it’s also about control, rather than just the books themselves, and it perpetuates this sort of adultist narrative that ‘I can control your upbringing,'” Kumar said.

The Commercial Appeal reported that a spokesperson for Collierville said the books were not withdrawn from official circulation, but for review.

Kumar, who is an organizer with the Tennessee Youth Coalition, said the schools in Collierville should have alerted parents and students to the book review process.

“I think every school should have let the people around them know what it looks like for that specific school,” Kumar said. “Especially because it was such a compelling argument to get this bill passed. We are transferring the power to the school districts.

Kumar said the removal of the book makes topics such as race and sexual orientation more difficult to discuss openly.

“As a queer student at this school and seeing that it’s your books that are mostly about the LGBTQ+ communities, it’s just uncomfortable,” Kumar said. “It doesn’t make a student feel safe, respected or their identity promoted in any class.”

Sen. Joey Hensley, the sponsor of the bill, told ABC24 the bill was killed this year but will be revisited in session next year.

ABC24 reached out to Collierville Schools in an email about prohibited categories of books and whether parental consent is needed for novels deemed inappropriate for age.

Colin L. Johnson