The Publishing Post
Anne Frank Graphic Novel Reinstated in Texas School District
By Malachi Martin
On 16 August, various reports detailed that a graphic novel based on Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl had been removed from school shelves in Texas. Initially deemed “too graphic” by the Keller Independent School District of Texas, it has now been reinstated in schools within the district following the backlash received by numerous Jewish groups in Tarrant County, Texas.
The reasons for its removal from school shelves were parent complaints about the title’s subject matter, which included “unwanted sexual references and mention of homosexuality” in its pages. At the time of its removal, it was reported that the 2017 graphic novel, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, was banned alongside forty-one other titles in the Texas school district. These included The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison), Out of Darkness (Ashley Hope Pérez), Gender Queer (Maia Kobabe), All Boys Aren’t Blue (George M. Johnson), The Bible and more. A large number of these books featured themes of race and included characters identifying as LGBTQIA+, with some parents against said material claiming that it promoted pornography and “critical race theory.”
This decision was disapproved by various groups such as Hadassah, the American Jewish Committee and PEN America. Anti-Defamation League’s head Simon Greenblatt also vocalised his objection, saying that “removing a version of Anne Frank’s diary from a school library is a disgrace.”
Individuals not involved in these groups also came out to speak against the district’s decision, with Seth Leavitt saying that “Antisemitism and Holocaust denial take many forms, removing a book that tells the true story of a Jewish girl who was killed by Nazis is one of them.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that a Keller parent, Laney Hawes, threatened to send one hundred copies of the book to the school district in protest. She also spoke out, stating that “there were only a handful of copies of the books in our school district.” Hawes continued: “I’m sending these books so that the people of Keller, Texas, have the opportunity to read her story. We cannot erase history.”
Superintendent Rick Westfall responded to the outcry stating that the bans were “a miscommunication,” further adding that the district was not “banning The Bible or The Diary of Anne Frank, as has been suggested in some headlines and shared on social media.” Westfall also made it known that only the graphic novel adaptation, not the original copies, were to be banned. Despite this, Westfall revealed that the graphic novel will be made available “very soon.”