New York Chapter Focuses on Banned Books

P.S. Weekly, a podcast produced by students, sheds light on critical issues in the nation’s largest school system. The team at The Bell comprises 11 student producers from various public high schools in NY who collaborate with NY’s reporters to deliver exclusive stories, perspectives, and commentary.

This installment of P.S. Weekly delves into the emergence of a nationwide trend in book bans making its presence felt in New York City.

Between the years 2021 and 2023, the country witnessed approximately 6,000 instances of book bans, as reported by PEN America, an organization dedicated to safeguarding writers and preserving freedom of expression. Nearly 60% of these banned books catered to young adults enrolled in school.

New York City school districts have yet to implement book bans. However, a recent incident sparked controversy when books addressing Black history, immigration, and transgender issues were discovered near a Staten Island school. This finding led to an inquiry, as outlined by Gothamist. Nevertheless, educators in the city have actively participated in the national discourse surrounding book bans.

The initial segment of this episode features a school librarian who faced backlash and online harassment in 2022 for promoting LGBTQ books on social media throughout Pride month.

A woman with short hair poses with a smile in front of a bookshelf.
Librarian Lindsay Klemas poses for a portrait. (Jana Mohamed / PS Weekly)

Lindsay Klemas, who served as the librarian at Forest Hills High School in Queens at that time, shared the emotional toll the incident took on her well-being. She expressed concerns about the broader implications of such attacks on educators and public schools.

“A parent has the right to control what their child reads. The situation becomes murkier as kids transition into their teenage years,” said Klemas, now overseeing all Queens public school libraries. “However, these groups aim to undermine educators’ credibility, instilling doubt about the material teachers expose students to and attacking the public school system.”

The subsequent segment of the show explores a Queens high school that introduced a sophomore English class solely focused on banned books.

Amy Weidner-LaSala, the instructor at the Academy of American Studies, mentioned that the selected books aid in demonstrating to students “the importance of broadening perspectives and accepting new concepts through literature.”

P.S. Weekly can be accessed on major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Share your feedback by leaving a review on your app or sending an email to . Let us know about your takeaways or any lingering questions; your comments may be featured in an upcoming episode.

P.S. Weekly is a collaborative effort between and The Bell. Tune in for new episodes every Wednesday this spring.

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