A Texas middle school teacher has faced termination following a controversy surrounding an unapproved illustrated version of Anne Frank’s Diary assigned to eighth-grade students. The incident unfolded in the Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District, south of Beaumont, raising concerns about the appropriateness of the material chosen for classroom instruction.
The teacher was dismissed after reading a passage from “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” that included explicit content related to male and female genitalia. The incident prompted an investigation into the teacher’s actions, leading to their removal from the classroom.
Anne Frank’s diary, a poignant account of her experiences as a Jewish teenager hiding from the Nazis during World War II, has been a significant educational tool for students worldwide to learn about the Holocaust. Traditionally, certain sections of Frank’s diary, particularly those discussing sexuality, were omitted from classroom versions. However, the 2018 graphic adaptation by Ari Folman and David Polonsky remains faithful to the original text, addressing the unvarnished realities faced by Frank and her family. Notably, Folman’s parents are Holocaust survivors.
In response to concerns raised by parents, the school district issued a statement informing parents that a substitute teacher had taken over the class since Wednesday, September 13, 2023. The district emphasized its commitment to finding a qualified full-time teacher promptly.
While the district asserts that the Anne Frank graphic novel was not an approved curriculum selection, reports indicate that it was included on a reading list distributed to parents at the beginning of the school year. The ongoing investigation will determine whether the teacher deviated from the approved curriculum or if school administrators were aware of the book’s inclusion in the class.
This incident is not isolated, as the unabridged version of Anne Frank’s diary has sparked controversy in other Texas schools. In Keller Independent School District in Dallas-Fort Worth, the diary was removed from library shelves, alongside the Bible, last year. Similarly, in Vero Beach, Florida, the graphic novel adaptation faced removal from a high school following parental concerns about its sexual content.
The controversy surrounding Anne Frank’s diary highlights the ongoing debate about appropriate educational materials in public schools and the challenges of balancing historical accuracy with age-appropriate content for students.