Teacher Explains Why She Has To Come In On A Saturday To Protect Her Classroom's Books — 'The Kids Wanna Read'

She's working unpaid all thanks to ridiculous new rules.

Screenshots from @sydneyrawls TikTok TikTok

A teacher in Tennessee made a TikTok explaining why she was in her classroom working on a Saturday.

Due to the state’s strict new laws requiring schools to catalog and post all materials not included in the curriculum, teachers who want to keep their classroom libraries now have to catalog every book in their collection on their own time.

The Tennessee teacher was obligated to come in on the weekend just to protect her classroom's books.

In her TikTok, Sydney Rawls explained the laborious process Tennessee teachers currently have to go through in order to keep their classroom libraries.


“The teacher has to catalog every single book. Once they catalog them, they send them to their school librarian, who has a list of books that are approved,” Rawls said. “Then, from those that weren’t approved, that list is sent to someone higher up. They determine whether these books are appropriate or not, and send that back.”

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After the teacher has gone through their collection and removed the books that weren’t approved, they then have to post the list of remaining books online for parents to see. “After that, the kids can finally start reading the books I have in my classroom library,” Rawls shared.


Book bans have been propping up around the country, with the majority of books targeted for censorship being those written by and about LGBTQ+ people and people of color. Although these bans have been a national topic of controversy as of late, the majority of book challenges were made by a small group of individuals targeting books with specific themes.

According to the Washington Post, “nearly half of filings — 43 percent — targeted titles with LGBTQ characters or themes, while 36 percent targeted titles featuring characters of color or dealing with issues of race and racism.”

According to Rawls, teachers are required to go through the cataloging process on their own time if they want their students to be able to read any school books. 

“The kids want to read books. They’re asking me, ‘Can I go get a book and read?’ and they’re so excited, and I have to say no,” said Rawls.


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At a time when Republicans across the country are proposing and passing a record number of transphobic laws, restricting access to books about LGBTQ+ history and lived experiences is unacceptable. LGBTQ+ and questioning youth deserve to see themselves represented in books. Banning media featuring queer people won’t make it so that fewer children grow up to be queer — it will only stigmatize their experiences and lead them to feel isolated.

Restricting books that include information on sexual abuse, bodily autonomy, and age-appropriate sex education on the grounds that they contain sexual content is also extremely dangerous. Children who are being sexually abused may not have the language to understand or describe what is happening to them if they are not informed about abuse and consent.


With book bans in Tennessee targeting important historical accounts of oppression like Maus, it's clear to see how these bans are breaching the intellectual freedom of children. Institutions like public schools and libraries should be able to stock media documenting different perspectives without having to deal with censorship.

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.