School board reaches decision on challenged books


“Trans Bodies, Trans Selves” is one book that was recently challenged in the Natrona County School District.

Arielle Purcell, Reporter

The Natrona County School District Board of Trustees recently decided that two challenged books could stay in the Kelly Walsh High School library, but a student must get a parent or guardian’s permission to read it.

The two books, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and Gender Queer contain images and ideas that some say should not be seen or read by high school aged students. Some are calling them “pornographic.”

Those who want the books to stay say that banning them will be demonstrating that we don’t want the people represented in the books to be in our community. Some believe that if the school board allows these books to be banned, it will lead to more book banning.

At the school board meeting on November 28nd, 2022, only one school board member voted against the motion, due to the opt-in requirement.

Melissa Hilt, a librarian at NC, says, “Moms for Liberty is a national organization that publishes materials for their members to use at school board meetings. A group of local parents started a Mom’s for Liberty organization here in Casper and they started showing up at school board meetings and reading the materials prepared by the national group.”

According to The First Amendment Encyclopedia, book banning is defined as “a form of censorship, occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes.”

If the books were banned, it would mean that they would be taken out of a school library. These books are not in Natrona County High School’s library. They are only in Kelly Walsh’s library. But that doesn’t mean that the issue doesn’t affect students at NC.

There are multiple NC students who are standing up for what they believe in and speaking at the board meetings. August Schneider, one of the students who has spoken there says, “It is very important that these issues or thoughts are addressed”.

August explains that some people feel different and it is important that they know they’re not alone in feeling this way.

The debate about these books is not just in Casper, though. These books have been banned all over the country. Gender Queer is one of the most banned books in 2022.

Although there are many adults involved in the issue, kids and teens are the ones that will be directly affected. 

Melissa Hilt explains, “By restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought, censors undermine one of the primary functions of education: teaching students how to think for themselves.”

The general belief of the people who don’t believe in book banning is that it takes away children’s ability to have a diverse world view, think for themselves, and see their own issues reflected in literature they want to read. But the other side of the argument has a much different idea, driven by many parents’ desire to have a say in what ideas their children are exposed to in school.

Jen Hopkins is a member of the Moms for Liberty group and was elected to the Natrona County School Board in 2022. She was contacted by the NC Gusher in December but referred our reporter to Tanya Southerland, NCSD Director of Public Relations. In a previous interview, with K2 Radio News, Hopkins said, “We need to get back to the basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic and the sexualization of children should never be a part of our public education.”