A Texas teacher was fired after assigning an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary to her middle school class, in a move that some are calling “a political attack on truth”.
The eighth-grade school teacher was released after officials with Hamshire-Fannett independent school district said the teacher presented the “inappropriate” book to students, reported KFDM.
The graphic novel, written by Ari Folman and illustrated by David Polonsky, adapts the diary of 13-year-old Anne Frank, who wrote while hiding in an annexe in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
The district sent an email to parents on Tuesday, notifying them that the book, which district officials say was not approved, would no longer be read.
“The reading of that content will cease immediately. Your student’s teacher will communicate her apologies to you and your students soon, as she has expressed those apologies to us,” read the email, reported KFDM.
By Wednesday, district officials had emailed parents, informing them that the teacher had been fired following an investigation into the incident.
“As you may be aware, following concerns regarding curricular selections in your student’s reading class, a substitute teacher has been facilitating the class since Wednesday, September 13, 2023,” said the district to parents, adding that a search for a new instructor was under way.
District officials have not released details about the incident, including which school the teacher taught in.
Eighth-grade students were reportedly shown a section of the graphic novel where Frank reflected on her own genitals and wanted to see a female friend’s breasts, according to KFDM.
Discussions of sexuality were included in the original written version of Anne Frank’s diary, but were edited out in subsequent reprints.
A spokesperson for Hamshire-Fannett ISD declined to comment on the incident during a phone call with the Guardian.
A Florida high school removed the graphic novel after a chapter of Moms for Liberty, an extremist advocacy group, objected to the book’s sexual contents and claimed it did not teach the Holocaust accurately, the Associated Press reported.
The graphic novel was also removed from Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth’s Keller independent school district.
The latest firing in Texas comes as education laws restricting teaching of race, sexuality and other topics are being implemented in classrooms across the US.
The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, signed legislation in 2021 severely limiting how educators can teach topics of race and gender. Texas has also banned more books than any other state, with more than 430 books banned in Texas schools.
Clay Robison, a spokesperson with the Texas State Teachers Association, called the latest incident “troubling” to the Guardian.
“No teacher should be fired for teaching the Diary of Anne Frank to middle school students,” Robison said. “Teachers are dedicated to teaching the truth, the whole truth,” he said, emphasizing the diary’s importance.
Robison added that many Texas teachers are experiencing fear, anger and anxiety about navigating restrictions in the classroom.
“It’s a political attack on truth,” Robison said of legislative attempts to limit education. “It’s not a woke agenda. It’s not a liberal agenda. It’s a truth agenda.”