The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

IC high school students share concerns on district’s book bans

Students from Iowa City High School spoke during the community comment portion of the Nov. 14 Iowa City schools school board meeting to express their fear and frustration.
Greg Derr/ Patriot Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK
“This Book is Gay” at the Braintree Public Library on Wednesday February 15, 2023

Several students from Iowa City High School expressed concerns at the Iowa City Community School District’s school board meeting on Nov. 14 about Iowa legislation that led to the district removing over 60 books from school libraries.

The students were outraged after the school district removed 68 books in compliance with a state law passed in the 2023 legislative session. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law on May 23 that banned books describing or depicting sexual acts from school libraries, something now being done by local schools.

Senior Owyn Noble passionately shared his feelings about Iowa City schools removing “Rape of Nanking” from libraries. He said removing a book about the motivations to fight Japan in WWII is absurd, considering that students still have access to books about the Holocaust and the war in Europe.

“The state of Iowa has spit upon the graves of American heroes today and I am ashamed to live in a state where facts are not allowed to flourish,” Noble said.

Reyna Roach, another senior, shared her dissatisfaction with the school board and criticized how they’ve succumbed to state legislation so easily. She acknowledged that legislators are trying to protect teachers — and urged them to act out of fear — but on behalf of the rights of students.

“SF 496 is a very scary bill because it can harm our teachers because the teachers being most threatened by this bill are the teachers, I know are most important to keep in our schools,” Roach said.

Another student, Sebastian Sander, spoke up about being a gay transgender male student who relied on LGBTQ+ literature to get them through the most difficult periods of growing up.

Sander said gay students need representation in their books at school so they can know they’re not alone and have role models to guide them.

“I want you to understand that the alternative to these books was not and is never going to be me turning our normal or different; it was killing myself,” Sander said.

Yomi Henley also discussed the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and her connection to the book “Song of Achilles,” which was removed from the library.

“Gay representation is already scarce in the media in general, so banning that in books would further outcast LGBTQ people in our schools,” Henley said. “It’s extremely important for your people in the LGBT community, and young people in general, to have representation of people like them.”

Student Sadie Bodzin criticized ICCSD’s ban on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and emphasized the importance of literature that discusses consent and sex.

RELATED: Iowa City school district removes 68 books in compliance with state law

She added if these topics are normalized, it will lead to less shame or uncertainty about things that are crucial to teenagers.

“It is ridiculous to assume that young people do not consume erotic material or have sex,” Bodzin said. “Books that destigmatize these topics and discuss consent and safety are important for teenagers to read. We are young adults and can discern what we can and cannot read without bureaucratic bodies telling us.”

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About the Contributor
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.