Censorship in literature


Briant DeJesus

Commonly banned books that are available at HS223.

Annual Banned Books Week was held from September 18 to September 24. The week is a time to reflect and discuss the unnecessary censorship that takes place in literature. As of June 2022, it was reported that novels were ‘banned 2,532 times in public schools across the U.S.’ These banned books themes consisted of 41% LGTBQ themes, 40% of which shared people of color or tackled issues of race, and 10% for books regarding activism in society.’

Clearly, these associations are washing down the meaning and representation of literature.

Historically, literature in schools is meant to provide students with the opportunity to respond to literature and develop their own opinions about the topic, but because of censorship, they are unable to do so since these stories are being censored and banned, a denial of freedom of expression. For all these reasons, HS223 believes that books should not be banned but instead embraced by our students, but how does this affect the community?

So, Why are Novels Being Banned at School?

Briant DeJesus
Banned books can be found at HS223 (Photo by Briant DeJesus)

Well, some people believe that these books may have a bad influence on students. But upon closer look, these books have narratives that explore sex, gender and race inclusivity. Banning books like this  hurts students identities and their willingness to find communities that they are comfortable in.

Does HS223 ban novels?

In short, no. During their time at HS223, students read  “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky which is a novel that is often on the banned book list. Authors like Elizabeth Acevedo, George M. Johnson and Margaret Atwood also make their way into the curriculum. These authors focus on  gender, sexuality, race, and ancestry – topics that are often “banned” in high schools.

During Banned Book Week, The Eagle Express interviewed several students and teachers to capture the phenomena and impact that the exposure of banned books has had on the overall learning environment.


9th Grade ELA Teacher, Ms. Lattanzio talks about the concept of banned books:

Reporter: How has reading banned books helped HS223 students?

Ms. Lattanzio: No book should be banned. A lot of the banned books that have been banned from schools are because people are afraid of what’s contained in the book. Since HS223 does not ban books I feel like a lot of the students get to learn from it. They get new experiences and new feelings when reading these books. A lot of students’ favorite books can’t be seen in other schools because of the banning of certain books. No book should be banned because of what’s contained on the inside only because people are scared of what’s to come from students reading those books.

Reporter: How does reading these books have an advantage on the students?

Ms. Lattanzio: Students who read banned books have the advantage of being able to learn and see different types of messages and things that can help the students learn more about them. Some books that are banned contain lgbtq+ (having this kind of topic can help kids learn more about lgbtq+ than fearing it and growing up being a homophobe because you weren’t able to read about these types of books that will be able to educate you) Also a lot of students here seem to be a lot more aware of what’s happening and going on.

Reporter: What do banned books consist of?

Ms. Lattanzio: Most banned books contain topics that aren’t seen as good by the board of education. Books with the political matter, POC, and stories with the gay bi-trans protagonist. Because of the way people see these books they’re banned just because of what’s in them. The books aren’t given a chance. Just seen as gay and chucked off. Anything that, ‘s not hetero will be banned. Drug abuse or topics. Political books, (trans abortion gays ext). Sometimes it’s just what the school district does not want and their rules are rules.


10th Grade ELA Teacher Mr. Fox and 10th/11th Grade teacher Ms. Drame, were interviewed on their views of Banned Books.

Reporter: What do you think about banned books?

Mr. Fox and Ms. Drame: I think that the concept of banning a book is complete trash… Censorship is being taken to extreme levels at this point. As we know, there is banned books week every year, that promotes news and updates about specific book categories that are being banned. This includes the communities that are being attacked and censored in the process. This event celebrates and uplifts these voices in these communities by giving people sets of books that are being banned in certain places. Their tagline says it best, ‘Banning Books Divide us, and Books should unite us’.

Reporter: What content do you think is being censored?

Mr. Fox and Ms. Drame: Topics that are considered inappropriately fit for a classroom but in reality, it’s topics on race that you can ignore. You can’t ignore gender, you can’t ignore sexuality, those are the three biggest themes that all intersect. A lot of authors stray away from all these societal norms in terms of what it means to be marginalized and those are the voices that are usually silenced.

Reporter: Do banned books impact HS223?

Mr. Fox and Ms. Drame: Fortunately they don’t because our school doesn’t ban any books and you have access to a lot of books that are actually commonly banned. This is a beautiful thing. The parallel between banning books and political ideologies is definitely intentional. So typically, the school boards and those banning these books are people who don’t understand the necessary truths that young people need to be thinking about. This goes back to the idea of just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you can pretend that it doesn’t exist. People themselves are feeling biased because they don’t feel comfortable, they restrict others.

Reporter: What impact does the exposure of banned books have on students?

Mr. Fox and Ms. Drame: It gets very subjective based on texts and who the people are. What comes to mind are novels like ‘The Poet X’ which 10th graders have started to read and it’s a commonly banned book. The book shares aspects of sexuality and growing up, and definitely feels real. So they include curse words, graphics, and maturity themes, but I think that there is a reason why every year every time students read it, they truly loved it, because of how real it is. Even if all of your identity factors didn’t match up with the protagonist or other characters, there are still connection points that I’ve seen students make. That power of reading is why we read. To make these connections, the idea of being seen, and building perspective is truly the power of reading. I think about banned books being realistic while other books are the white-washed versions. Banned books need to be taught in school because the everyday world doesn’t lightly teach those lessons. It’s a disservice to ignore them.

Reporter: How do you as an educator want to evolve the school curriculum on a national scale?

Mr. Fox and Ms. Drame: Something that I think is really beautiful that came out of NY city is that the New York Library and the Brooklyn library specifically had a national campaign in conjunction with banned books week… They gave free access to banned books and free memberships to anyone in the country. I think that the accessibility issue is something that I, on a national scale, would contribute more as well as the initiatives that we will always be fighting something from a teacher perspective to make education equitable, especially in public systems. These types of initiatives can prevent censorship and get books into the hands of people who may not have the access to them.


Class of ’24 students, Addy Martinez, and Safa Al-Omari were also asked about their experience with banned books.

Martinez and Al-Omari: The banning of books is such a hindrance to us, students. It truly demonstrates how society and the school system has a fixed mindset. It wants to keep us in a bubble revolving around the same traditional and vague ideas. 223 prevents that from happening.”

Reporter: How has exposure to banned books impacted you?

Martinez: It made me realize that our minds are courageous. We go through things that are showcased in books. If books aren’t exposed to us, we aren’t able to reflect and find true connection to the books.

Al-Omari: Banned books… I feel like the idea of banned books is dumb. Why would we ban books? It’s freedom of speech. If parents are concerned, there should be an age limit but that also limits students. From my experience, I love each and everyone of every banned book that I have read at 223.


Class of ’26, Paige Innis, also gave their opinion on banned books and parental decisions.

Reporter: Do you think books should be banned

Innis: No book should be banned because diversity is key. We want everyone to be open! And they should all be open. And if you don’t want to be open. Don’t read the book if you have an issue. Everyone always gets mad at everything and really why should they care what’s inside a book”

Reporter: Do you think families should have an opinion on banned books?

Innis Parents and families would be biased because maybe some are religious and see things wrong with lgbtq+ or POC or politics etc”


Overall, the majority of students at HS223 were surveyed on their opinions of banned books and the results are clear and expected.

Do you think books should be banned? : 100% of students say no.

The results are pretty clear: let’s keep on reading!