Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


CCSD Attempts to Ban Books

The CCSD school board disaster continues
AMHS’s DAYLO group at the School Board meeting two weeks ago

At a school board meeting two weeks ago, discussion was held regarding the banning of 97 books district-wide. While book banning may seem archaic and Orwellian, this threat is both very modern and very real. It is harmful because it promotes the erasure of racial minorities and LGBTQ people by banning books that provide representation for these groups. This is not an accident. Charlotte Dailey, a current CCSD board member, outright stated that gay children do not exist. She also commented that racial achievement gaps are not due to systemic injustice, but rather the actions of black parents. The presence of someone with these views on the school board is terrifying and unacceptable.

To level with you, the school board is a bit of a mess right now.

— Owen Russell

Three members of Academic Magnet’s DAYLO (Diversity Awareness Literacy Youth Organization) club, sponsored by Ms Bortz, were also present at this meeting. DAYLO devotes itself to preventing the banning of books in CCSD and throughout the US and creating a more equal environment for all CCSD students. Kate Selvitti (10th grade), the club’s president, Dylan Rhyne (10th grade), Gabbi Perone, and Owen Russell (9th grade) were all in attendence, and Kate, Dylan, and Owen all spoke. In Owen’s speech, he made the point that book banning is censorship and a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Consitution. Owen also made clear that their attendance was in support of marginalized groups. It is important to note that the right-wing group Moms for Liberty is headlining the charge to ban books and is deliberately following a step by step process in order to achieve this.

DAYLO was not alone. Many members of the community showed up to express their support of the preservation of books. This public support is extremely important, as it demonstrates to the school board that this is an issue they cannot ignore for long. Public representatives depend on their constituents for reelection, so it is unlikely they will support an initiative that is obviously publically unpopular. I urge readers who feel strongly about this issue to email their representatives and make their support for DAYLO’s initiative known.

The main book up for discussion is All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, a series of essays that follow the author’s journey as he grows up as a queer black man in Plainfield, New Jersey, and Virginia. All of the members of DAYLO who spoke at the last CCSD board meeting have read it and will be referencing it specifically at the next board meeting. This past Monday, Kate Selvitti spoke at the CAJM (Charleston Area Justic Ministry) meeting in Mt Pleasant. Another student, Penn, also spoke, and elaborated specifically on his experience as a transgender student and how he does not feel safe in his school. It is that lack of safety and misinformation that informs DAYLO’s initiatives.

We are all disappointed in the fact that students are having to make these decisions for the adults.

— Kathryn Selvitelli

In March, a similar issue arose in Beaufort County. It is in Beaufort that DAYLO originated, and because of Kate Selvitti’s outspokenness against the banning of books, the president there, Jonathan Haupt, reached out to her about starting a branch in Charleston County.

97 books were challenged for review from Beaufort County schools. Of these, nine books were removed from this list and returned to grades 9-12 only thanks to the efforts of DAYLO speakers from local schools Battery Creek, Beaufort Academy, and Beaufort High showing up to speak at a Beaufort County School Board Meeting. Jason Mott, poet and novelist, also showed up to protest the removal of books. In a powerful speech, he argued that “banning books will not make the world’s complexities go away.”

To ban books is to ban stories. It is to ban voices. It is to ban facts. It is to ban ideas and identities. And history has shown us, more than once, that this always leads to trouble.

— Jason Mott

The original complainants appealed all of these decisions. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult was removed from circulation, and will remain off of Beaufort County shelfs for a minimum of five years. At this meeting, a board member also proposed to drop the number of books that can be reviewed at a time per meeting from ten to five. This would drag out the process, and make it less likely for the public to show up in support of DAYLO’s initiatives and a lack of censorship. Victor Ney (District 5), Elizabeth Hey (District 9), and Rachel Wisnefski (District 7), all supported this motion; however, it failed to pass in a vote of 7 to 3 to 1.

These incidents are not isolated. On May 27th, 2023, a single person filed for the removal of 93 books from Berkeley County School District, including Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and Native Son by Richard Wright. The Kite Runner was also up for review for banning last year by Beaufort County Schools as part of their still ongoing investigation. The full list is available online thanks to a public record request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. It is important to be noted that if a parent does not want their own child to have access to a particular book, there are district policies in place that they can follow to exempt their child from being able to read it. They do not have to support this initiative to censor books from all children. The ACLU-SC encourages anyone who is invested in protecting the freedom to read to join Freedom to Read SC and ProTruth SC. They remain involved in the federal court case NAACP vs Pickens County School District, in an attempt to challenge a politically motivated book ban.

The Academic Magnet Chapter of DAYLO’s next meeting is this Wednesday, November 8th at lunch. I encourage our readers to educate themselves on this issue. Book bannings and similar motions in board meetings getting passed rely on the public being uninformed. Information is the best way to counteract these efforts.

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