‘This is wrong’: Central York students protest ban on books about racism

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — A ban on books, movies, and websites in the Central York School District is prompting protests. Many of the materials on the banned list are about race and racism and are by black authors.

The list went out to teachers in August. It includes things like a PBS documentary about slavery, articles about how to be anti-racist, and books like ‘White Fragility’ and ‘The New Jim Crow.’ The email told teachers not to use the resources on that list.

This week students like Edha Gupta, Christina Ellis, and Olivia Pituch protested in front of Central York High School to voice their frustration with the ban.

“We can show the district that we are students and our voices are heard and they matter,” Gupta said.

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When they found out about the ban, they were angry.

“I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I was shocked, terrified, disappointed,” Gupta said.

“It’s saying to me that they are ok with silencing my voice,” Ellis said.

They believe excluding those materials diminishes their education.

“I believe in a holistic review of history and materials and disseminating materials because these materials they contribute to my understanding of the world,” Gupta said.

For students of color especially, confronting race and racism feels critical.

“Banning and silencing African American and BIPOC people, it’s part of our history. When you’re doing that you’re not giving the students a true candid representation of history,” Ellis said.

It’s important to many of their white peers too.

“A lot of these resources can help people notice microaggressions, notice little acts of racism, teach kids how to be accepting and embrace others,” Pituch said.

Teacher Ben Hodge is guiding and helping the students as they organize their demonstrations. “There’s no indoctrination going on. Facilitating and caring for young people is not indoctrination,” Hodge said. “And I’m doing the best I can to be the best teacher I can be, for not just some of my students, but all of my students.”

The students say they plan to keep demonstrating until something changes. “This is wrong, it’s alarmingly wrong and we need to stand up for what’s right,” Ellis said.

ABC27 News reached out to the district to ask why they put the ban in place and what they think of the protests. A spokeswoman replied to say they’d send a statement, but they never did.