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Belton Middle School students support viral librarian's banned book display while parents protest

We've heard from people for and against, mostly parents, but a student is speaking out about why she started a petition in support of the librarian's display.

BELTON, Texas — The Belton ISD librarian who went viral on TikTok after she posted a video about being told to take down her "banned book" display after a parent complaint is getting the support from some of the students she serves.

Eighth grader Claire Brown, along with her friends, started a petition in support of their librarian and her "Banned Books Week" display for September after there's been lots of backlash by some parents.

"I want people to know that she's not the bad guy," Brown said. "She's doing her very best in a difficult situation and that's hard for anybody and especially just a middle school librarian. She's just trying to help all of us kids and she's really doing a good job."

Brown said the Belton Middle School librarian knew every student on the first day of school, made the library a desirable place to be and she cares about students.

Ever since her TikTok video went viral, Brown said there has been lots of conversations, rumors and stories going around from students at school. She hates that the librarian isn't being shined in the best light and believes books shouldn't be restricted.

"Books are great place to turn to and the fact that they're being taken away is not fair," she said.

The librarian's display promoting "Banned Books Week" has parents furious about the type of books on shelves.

"Why do you feel children should have access to sexually explicit and inappropriate reading material," a concerned citizen asked the Belton ISD School Board Trustees at the meeting Monday night.

"I could have picked myself up off the floor when I saw what these pictures were demonstrating," a concerned grandparent said about some graphic novels that are on the shelves of BISD schools.

The now viral display contained books that are historically known to be challenged at some point for different reasons and in different locations. Belton ISD told 6 News the books in the display have never been officially challenged as of Monday afternoon.

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The parents protesting at the school board meeting Monday night were primarily complaining about sexual content. Posters were made that read:

"'Lord of the Flies' challenged in the 70s is not on the same scale of the sexually explicit content of "Beyond Magenta," a book that is currently on display in one of our school libraries serving 11 to 14 year olds," a concerned parent told the school board.

Those complaining and protesting to the Belton ISD School Board want the books pulled and the display taken down.

The librarian said in one of her now viral TikTok videos that's garnered about 1.2 million views as of Tuesday night, that the display is educational.

"It's not about taking away a parent autonomy," she said in her first video. "Your kid definitely does not have to read those books. However, this is an opportunity to bring awareness, information and knowledge to kids when they might not otherwise have it."

Brown and her friends at Belton Middle School want their librarian back serving students and they'll take action to support her.

"Don't want to get a bunch of middle schoolers in trouble for trying to protect their librarian so, we're trying to do it in the most peaceful way possible," she said.

Brown told 6 News the petition will be given to the principal of Belton Middle School after a couple hundred signatures. She said if the display is taken down or the librarian doesn't come back, they'll protest is some fashion.

Belton ISD said they can't comment on personnel matters, so 6 News does not know whether the librarian is still employed with the district.

6 News attempted to reach out to the American Library Association (ALA) about the viral complaint as the association encourages libraries to celebrate the annual week, as stated by the librarian. As of Tuesday night, no contact was made.

On its website, the ALA explains Banned Book Week is to highlight attempts to censor books.

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