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Why a Texas teacher was fired for reading Anne Frank’s diary

Parents and school leaders in several school districts have raised concerns about an unabridged version of Anne Frank’s diary that includes sexual content

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Teresien da Silva, left, and Ronald Leopold of the Anne Frank Foundation show a facsimile of Anne Frank’s diary on May 15, 2018.

Teresien da Silva, left, and Ronald Leopold of the Anne Frank Foundation show a facsimile of Anne Frank’s diary with two pages taped off during a press conference at the foundation’s office in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on May 15, 2018.

Peter Dejong, Associated Press

A Texas school district recently dismissed one of its teachers over the use of an unabridged version of Anne Frank’s diary in the classroom.

The teacher reportedly read a scene containing sexual content to an eighth-grade class and assigned other sections of the book as homework. When district officials learned of these actions, the teacher, who has not been publicly named, was sent home, according to KFDM, the TV station in Beaumont, Texas, that first reported the news.

Mike Canizales, a spokesman for Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District, told KFDM in a statement that the district will look to hire a new teacher to take over the class.

“During this period of transition, our administrators and curriculum team will provide heightened support and monitoring in the reading class to ensure continuity in instruction,” he said.

Anne Frank’s diary and book bans

The situation in Texas is the latest in a series of conflicts centered on classroom reading material, in general, and Anne Frank’s diary, in particular.

While Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” is a widely acclaimed first-person look at the horrors of the Holocaust, a newer, unabridged collection of her writings, called “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” has sparked controversy in multiple school districts.

“It was briefly pulled from another Texas district, permanently removed from a Florida district and has spent several months under review at another Florida district; a Republican Jewish lawmaker in Florida has called it ‘Anne Frank pornography,’” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

“Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” was released in 2018 and includes colorful illustrations depicting the scenes that Frank describes.

When it was released, at least one prominent reviewer predicted that it would be appealing to teachers who had been using the original version of the diary in their classroom, according to The Washington Post.

Anne Frank Fonds, the foundation that controls the copyright to Frank’s writing, has previously defended the unabridged collection of her work in an interview with Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“We consider the book of a 12-year-old girl to be appropriate reading for her peers,” the foundation said in a statement.

Texas investigation into Anne Frank controversy

In Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District in Texas, school officials are working to determine how “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” ended up on the eighth-grade reading curriculum.

“District officials claim the adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary has never been approved, yet it was on a reading list sent to parents at the start of the school year,” KFDM reported.

Canizales said in a statement to KFDM that the district is still investigating the situation.