Civil rights investigation into Forsyth County Schools wraps up
The U.S. Department of Education wrapped up an investigation Friday into Forsyth County Schools' removal of certain books from libraries.
Forsyth County removed several books from its school libraries after parents complained about their sexually explicit content or LGBTQ content. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education found the removal process may have created a hostile environment for some students that violated federal laws against race and sex discrimination.
Forsyth County Schools removed eight books from its library after complaints in January 2022. Seven of those books were eventually allowed back on the shelves.
Parents also wanted books with LGBTQ content to be stored on a separate shelf with different tags. But Forsyth Schools chose not to separately tag and shelf those books.
The OCR found that the removal focused only on sexually explicit content, but the board's language in the meetings addressing the removal may have caused harm to some students.
Communications at board meetings conveyed the impression that books were being screened to "exclude diverse authors and characters, including people who are LGBTQI+ and authors who are not white," a letter from the OCR said, adding that "The District has not taken steps to address with students the impact of the book removals."
The letter added that some students expressed fear of harassment when going to school because of the removals.
The OCR provided a list of recommendations for Forsyth County Schools to mitigate harm during book removals. The process includes explanations on the 2022 removal and information on support for students.
Forsyth County Schools Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Caracciolo provided the following statement to GPB News about the investigation:
"Forsyth County Schools is committed to providing a safe, connected, and thriving community for all students and their families. With the implementation of the OCR’s recommendations, we will further our mission to provide an unparalleled education for all to succeed.
Our district will continue to follow Federal and State laws, and local Board policies and procedures, for media center materials."
In 2022, Georgia passed a law that allows parents to request removal or changes of school materials that they find inappropriate.
UPDATE: On May 24, 2023, a spokesperson for Forsyth County Schools confirmed that the following books were reviewed for inappropriate content in January 2022:
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson
“Looking for Alaska” by John Green
“L8r, g8r” by Lauren Myracle
“Me Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
“Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult
“Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez
“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
“The Infinite Moment of Us” by Lauren Myracle
One book, "All Boys Are Aren't Blue" by George M. Johnson, was permanently removed from Forsyth School libraries.