NH school district wrestles with rules

Milford High School students in New Hampshire didn’t just recognize Banned Books Week: They painted a tribute in their hallway. Directly in front of the school’s library this week is an art installation with 11 lockers painted to resemble the spines of 11 commonly challenged books, from “The Catcher in the Rye” to “Maus,” the graphic novel about the Holocaust.

Across the hall, a display inside the library shows off a number of young adult books that have been targeted throughout the nation in recent years, many centered on teenagers grappling with race, identity, and sexuality.

“This library celebrates Banned Books Week,” a poster states.

But for the school district, book challenges are also a local issue. Last school year, a parent raised a complaint about the book “Gender Queer,” a memoir by Maia Kobabe about their journey toward identifying as nonbinary. The complainant did not submit a formal request to challenge the book, but amid uncertainty over what the procedures were, Superintendent Christi Michaud removed the book from circulation for “less than 30 days,” she said in an interview. The challenge was later dropped and the book restored.

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