The Texas Library Association (TLA) is hosting a roundtable panel discussing the recent increase of censorship in school districts regarding approved books to read in school, and book bans in Texas. The panel will take place on February 24 from 4-5:15 p.m. over Zoom. Guests on the panel will range from students to teachers to parents, and everyone in between to weigh-in on this issue.
Sophomore, Ryan Selander, was invited to this panel following his speech at the December 13 Keller ISD board meeting on the topic. In recent releases of libraries banned books lists, a portion of them are related to LGBTQ+ themes referring to identity, relationships, and violence. Selander argued that the censorship of books on a district-level scale harms both students and teachers alike and ultimately enables intolerant behavior, as well as decreasing the amount of resources students have access to in order to understand not only themselves but also the rest of their peers.
“When I was a little kid, I never saw myself in books, trying to explore my identity was hard because I never thought I could be anything other than what was expected of me. Being the ‘rainbow sheep’ of my family, knowing that I could’ve understood what I was sooner from books really would’ve been life-changing for the little boy who was confused by himself. If I knew that painting my nails would be okay ten years later, it would’ve changed my life,” Selander said on being an LGBTQ+ student during the discussion of the book ban.
Following the overwhelmingly positive response to his speech, Selander was interviewed by the New York Times and featured in local coverage of the book ban issue in Texas. This attention got him scouted for a coveted spot in the Freedom To Read Roundtable panel sponsored by the TLA.
“I remember when I got the actual paper copy, it felt like a daydream,” Selander said. “People are actually hearing what I have to say, and I get to use my voice to productively change things and stop the censorship of books.”