Because books that humanize the victims of the Holocaust have apparently become contraband, a Texas middle school teacher has been fired for having students read an adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary. The firing represents the latest incident in the Republican-led crackdown on education.
According to local outlet KFDM, Hamshire-Fannett ISD took disciplinary action against the unnamed 8th-grade teacher for teaching a curriculum they termed “not approved.” The book in question was Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, a comic book version of the harrowing account of a Jewish family’s struggle to survive the Holocaust.
“A version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ book that was not approved by the district was read in class,” said the school district spokesperson Mike Canizales. “The teacher was sent home [Wednesday]. There is an active investigation.” Despite this statement pinning blame on the teacher, the book was reportedly included on an approved reading list sent to parents at the start of the school year.
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Published in 1947, just two years after Frank’s death, The Diary of a Young Girl remains one of the most consistently challenged books in the US. The first published version censored sections in which Frank—near middle school age herself at the time of writing—describes going through puberty, including reflections on menstruation and genitalia. Later versions, including the graphic novel adaptation, have put these sections back in, completing the picture of this young girl.
Most recent book bans have been targeted towards racial or LGBTQ+-related content. While sexual content of any kind also tends to get censored, complaints in the Anne Frank case were pointedly fixated on her memories of seeing another girl’s breasts.
“I mean it’s bad enough, she’s having them read this for an assignment,” said Amy Manuel, a parent of twin boys at the school, “but then she also is making them read it aloud and making a little girl talk about feeling each other’s breasts and when she sees a female she goes into ecstasy, that’s not ok.”
Anne Frank’s diary is a classic classroom text that discusses both the realities of growing up and the realities of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time in recent memory that Holocaust literature has come under the cross hairs of moral panic. In 2022, a Tennessee school board sparked outrage for banning Art Spiegelman’s classic graphic novel Maus over foul language.
At the time, the school board’s decision was so shocking that it made national headlines. Almost two years later, similar bans have become the norm in some parts of the country.