Teacher allegedly fired for reading excerpt from illustrated diary of Anne Frank to eighth-graders

An unidentified Texas teacher was allegedly fired for assigning the illustrated version of Anne Frank’s Diary to her eighth-grade reading class.

According to KFDM, the controversy began when a middle school teacher read aloud an excerpt from the 2018 Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation – which is adapted by Ari Folman and illustrated by David Polonsky.

The famous diary was written by the Jewish teenager who documented her two years hiding from Nazis in an attic in German-occupied Holland during 1940.

Her journal, which was retrieved after her death at the age of 16 at the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, is regarded as a crucial piece of historical literature and is often taught in school when students learn about the Holocaust.

At the Texas middle school, the teacher read a passage that was edited out of the revised version of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, KFDM explained.

Although school officials have insisted that the graphic novel had not been approved, it was reportedly among textbooks included on a reading list sent to teachers earlier this year.

A mother named Amy Manuel – whose twin sons are in the eighth-grade reading class – was one of the parents who strongly opposed the book’s content, specifically, the part in which Frank opens up about her attraction towards another girl. Manuel told the outlet that the passage in which the teen wrote about her fantasies is “not okay”.

Following the incident, the school sent an email to all parents last Tuesday (September 12), and it read: “It was brought to the administration’s attention tonight that 8th-grade students were reading content that was not appropriate. The reading of that content will cease immediately.”

The Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District then notified parents and guardians the next day that the educator had been fired following an investigation into the incident, and asked to “communicate her apologies”.

“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,” the email continued, adding that a search for a new instructor was underway.

Clay Robison, a spokesperson with the Texas State Teachers Association, spoke about the latest incident to The Guardian, describing it as “troubling”.

“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 added, emphasizing the diary’s importance.

Robison stated that many teachers in the state are experiencing fear and anxiety due to restrictions in the classroom. “It’s a political attack on truth,” he said of legislative attempts to restrict education. “It’s not a woke agenda. It’s not a liberal agenda. It’s a truth agenda.”

This is not the first time the book has drawn criticism as in April, a Florida high school removed it after a parent affiliated with the conservative group Moms for Liberty complained about the diary’s sexual contents. They also claimed that it did not teach the Holocaust accurately, per the Associated Press.

In addition to this, the diary was also pulled from Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth’s Keller independent school district. This prompted the Anne Frank Fonds – the Switzerland-based foundation that controls the copyright to her diary – to release a statement about the backlash towards the graphic adaptation.

The foundation defended Frank’s original writing by saying: “We consider the book of a 12-year-old girl to be appropriate reading for her peers.” They also expressed grave concern towards ignorance about the Holocaust and “denial of history is on the rise, especially in the United States”.

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