“Every day it seemed to get bigger and bigger,” Ms. Ellis said.
The committee that drew up the list in August 2020 was composed of faculty members, students, residents and board members reacting to the many protests that occurred following Mr. Floyd’s murder. When the board voted to keep the materials out of classrooms, it got little attention in York, a county with nearly half a million people about 100 miles west of Philadelphia.
The county has 16 different school districts covering rural and suburban areas, as well as the city of York, where a little over half the population is Black or Hispanic, and where memories of race riots 50 years ago still linger.
At the time of the vote, public attention was mostly focused on the pandemic and the presidential election, according to the students.
But Patricia A. Jackson, an English and creative writing teacher at the high school, said instructors “lived in fear” of being disciplined.
“I had children writing stories about queer love and trans love, and I was worried about the backlash about that,” she said.
Ms. Gupta said she was not even aware of the vote.
At the time, she and other students, who had formed the Panther Anti-Racist Union, were trying to convince the board to adopt a social studies curriculum that included an African-American studies class. The group was named for the school mascot.
Other residents around the town said they were stunned when they saw the list of banned resources.
“It takes your breath away,” said Hannah Shipley, 27, a nanny in York, Pa. “People are afraid of these books?”
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