June 23, 2022

Dear Barrington 220 Community, 

We are aware of posts circulating on various social media platforms regarding an issue that was discussed at our recent Board of Education meeting. The issue relates to our middle school summer reading program.

Earlier this month, an email was sent to a group of our middle school parents encouraging students to continue reading, as it is important for students to continue to learn and grow over the summer months. The email included links to two book award lists created by the American Association of Illinois School Library Educators, the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award 2023 and the 2023 Illinois Lincoln Award List. The email explained that some of the books on the Lincoln Award List contain mature content which is not appropriate for younger grades. It also included our designated summer reading list for middle school students. 

It was brought to our attention that a book on the Lincoln Award List, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, raised concerns with some of our families. Gender Queer is an award-winning memoir that shares the journey and struggle with self-identity and coming out as asexual and non-binary to family and friends. While this text is on the Lincoln Award List that was created by the American Association of Illinois School Library Educators, it is not one of the recommended books on our middle school reading list. Additionally, this book is not part of our Barrington 220 curriculum, it is not an instructional material, and it is not available in our middle school libraries. 

The text is available for check out for students and staff at Barrington High School, and we are currently utilizing our procedures for re-evaluation of materials to review it. While as a school district we do not want to censor texts that are available in our libraries, we need to be cognizant of both relevance and age appropriateness. This does give us the opportunity to review our practices and procedures to ensure that we have consistent expectations throughout the district. It is important that our text selections are inclusive and represent our diverse student body. Each librarian follows our district selection criteria and procedures for each book added to the library shelves.