Getting Answers: School officials, parents react to book banning policy in Ludlow Public Schools

A proposed library book policy that could lead to certain books being banned in Ludlow Public Schools.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 9:16 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUDLOW, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Ludlow school district in the spotlight after a school committee meeting on Tuesday night. One of the items on their agenda, a proposed library book policy that could lead to certain books being banned in Ludlow Public Schools.

This proposed policy is derived from a policy already in place in some Pennsylvania schools. One local professor shared the psychological impact that banning books has on children.

“Public education is valued, and censorship is unacceptable,” said Shannon Anderson.

A proposed library book policy at Ludlow Public Schools has a community divided.

“I’m here to defend my 12-year-old I don’t want her to be exposed to sexual conduct, that’s it,” said one Ludlow parent.

Under the proposal, a district level library supervisor of each school will give a recommended list of books to the school superintendent.

After the superintendent’s approval, that list will be provided to the school committee, and posted publicly for thirty days, allowing parents guardians and employees to submit written comments on the recommended list.

Then the superintendent will make a final list recommendation, considering the public comments, and bring it to the school committee. The committee may accept or reject the list in whole or in part.

The policy also lists restrictions for books, including books that have visual or written sexual content. School committee member Dias introduced the policy and said the current policy has not been reviewed since 2017 and puts the town at risk of a civil lawsuit.

“The current policy leaves a lot of decision making to a librarian,” said Joao Dias. “If that librarian makes the wrong decision on a book and it’s the decision that you don’t like, you will probably sue her or him.”

One local psychology professor told Western Mass News this type of policy is something being introduced at schools across the nation, including in Florida and Pennsylvania.

“A trend we have kind of seen increasing more recently, there are a number of effects, and I would say that they are largely negative effects to this happening,” said Jason Seacat.

He shared the psychological impact of banning books in schools.

“Books are a manifestation of our first amendment right of freedom of speech,” said Seacat. “It tends to isolate and ostracize certain groups of individuals. For example, if books are being targeted for portraying some history of the LGBTQ plus population or elements of racial injustice then by banning those books it’s sending the message that there is something wrong with those groups.”

Seacat added that he expects to see more research and studies on this topic in the future.

The Ludlow School Committee is expected to vote on this library book proposal at an upcoming meeting.