The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ended an investigation this week on Forsyth County Schools that alleges that the removal of books from Black or LGBTQI+ authors from school libraries created a hostile environment for students based on sex, race, color, or national origin under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This finding comes after removing eight books from their library shelves in 2022 after an outcry from parents centered around “sexually explicit content”.

This comes after complaints from some parents and community members about the district providing students access to library books that groups of parents deemed inappropriate because they contained sexually explicit content. In addition, one parent group asked the district to shelve LGBTQI+ books separately in school libraries. In addition, during several school board meetings, the public was left that books were being screened to exclude diverse authors and characters, including people who are LGBTQI+ and authors who are not white, causing students to express concerns about the impact of the book removals. Further, the Office of Civil Rights received additional complaints challenging this district’s library book removal as having created a racially and sexually hostile environment for students.

The investigation identified the following concerns communications at board meetings may have created a hostile environment for students, and the district library book screening process was not sufficient to ameliorate any resultant racially and sexually hostile environment. In light of these findings, Forsyth County Schools has agreed to:

  • Issue a statement to students detailing the library book removal process and offer supportive measures to students who may have been impacted by that process
  • Administer a climate survey of the student bodies at each of the district’s middle and high schools to assess whether additional steps need to be taken.
  • Implement ongoing monitoring until the Office of Civil Rights is satisfied that the federal laws at issue are satisfied.

“I thank Forsyth County Schools for assessing and responding to the needs of the students who may have felt subjected to a hostile environment as a result of the library book screening process and for ensuring that, going forward, it will take appropriate action regarding acts of harassment that create a hostile environment based on sex, race, color or national origin,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.