'It's heartbreaking': Spring Branch ISD bans book despite author saying he writes for humanity

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Spring Branch ISD banning book is 'heartbreaking,' author says
Author Frederick Joseph told ABC13 he's heartbroken after Spring Branch ISD banned his book "The Black Friend, On Being a Better White Person."

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A book called "The Black Friend, On Being a Better White Person" is now banned in Spring Branch ISD middle schools and restricted in high schools.

Frederick Joseph, the book's author, told ABC13 he is saddened by the district's choice.

"I'm interested, and have been interested, since I was working in marketing full time, in moving the needle on how we can make humanity better," Joseph said. "It seems with the case of Spring Branch, they have not only judged, but they've also been jury and executioner as well for something that they've not even considered."

Joseph said he has heard from dozens of Spring Branch ISD parents who support the book. At the district's meeting on Jan. 24, two dozen parents urged the district to keep the book on shelves without any restrictions and criticized a decision they believe is not what's best for students.

"I realize this is an opportunity for some of you to make a political statement," Nathalie Turpin, a parent, said. "But, I urge you to choose educational excellence for every child instead of further dividing our district."

Cathy Elmore, another parent, asked the district to be open-minded.

RELATED: Another book pulled from Spring Branch ISD as statewide book investigation underway

"We ought to be about sharing ideas and experiences, even if we don't agree with them," Elmore said.

The board, which is elected by a majority of Spring Branch residents, sided with those who think the book is divisive and inappropriate.

"The book incited racism, hate speech, and promotes (critical race theory) and division under misleading circumstances," Lindsay McConn, who spoke against the book, said.

According to district policy, "Library materials subject to restricted access shall be moved to a restricted access area; however, the titles of the library materials shall remain viewable," and "If a committee decides that the book is restricted access, then written parental/legal guardian permission shall be required."

Restricted books are on labeled shelves and can only be accessed with parental permission.

At Stratford High School, it's not just "The Black Friend, On Being a Better White Person," but also familiar titles like "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "The Handmaid's Tale." No one from the district was available on Tuesday to speak about the restricted policy.

Joseph's book is not taught in classrooms, so if they want to read it, students would have to seek it out.

"It's heartbreaking," Joseph said about his book. "First and foremost, because it undercuts parents. It undercuts teachers. Most importantly, it undercuts students."

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