Texas middle school teacher under investigation for reading Anne Frank novel in class

A Texas middle school teacher has been fired after reading a passage from an illustrated version of Anne Frank’s diary, in which Frank wrote about male and female genitalia. 

The Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District (HFISD) in Jefferson County, Texas fired the unnamed 8th grade teacher for reading from Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, stating it was “unapproved” literature. 

The section, which drew controversy centred on Frank’s discussion of genitalia, her period and a memory of asking a female friend if they could show each other their breasts. 

“A version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ book that was not approved by the district was read in class,” Mike Canizales, Hamshire-Fannett ISD spokesperson, told KFDM.

“The teacher was sent home [Wednesday]. There is an active investigation,” Canizales said.

One parent, who has twin boys in the class, told KFDM: “I mean it’s bad enough, she’s having them read this for an assignment, but then she also is making them read it aloud and making a little girl talk about feeling each other’s breasts and when she sees a female she goes into ecstasy, that’s not ok.”

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The comic book version of Frank’s famous diary visualises her journaled experiences of her and family hiding for two years from the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands.

The original diary was published in 1947, two years after Frank’s death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and initially removed passages written by Frank about her sexuality and puberty. 

These sections were later readded and the graphic novel represents an full, unabridged version of Frank’s diary. 

This is not the first time the graphic novel has been at the centre of controversy. 

In April, a high school in Florida has banned the work as it feature images of nude statues and was thus “not appropriate” for students. 

The book was removed from the Vero Beach High School library after a parent group, Indian River County chapter of Moms For Liberty, expressed concerns about it. 

More widely, there is a wave of book bans taking place across the US, with a majority of works banned containing LGBTQ+ themes, topics of race and racism, or sexual content. 

A report by PEN America shows that there were 2,532 instances of individual book bans between July 2021 and July 2022 in the United States, with Maia Kobabe’s memoir Gender Queer, about growing up as non-binary and asexual, is reported as the most-banned book. 

674 banned book titles (41 per cent) explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+.