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Idaho high school student goes viral with defiant act at her graduation after district banned books

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One Idaho high school student has protested her school’s book ban by handing the superintendent a copy of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ during her graduation ceremony.

Annabelle Jenkins gave West Ada Superintendent Derek Bub graphic novel adaptation of the famous book during the Idaho Fine Arts Academy commencement on May 23 – but he refused to take it.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is one of 10 books the West Ada School District removed from shelves in December, according to Idaho EdNews.

Jenkins posted a TikTok, that has since garnered millions of views, showing the moment she defiantly handed Bub the book.

‘I just realized that I did not want to walk across that stage and get my diploma and shake the superintendent’s hand. I just did not want to do that,’ Jenkins told KTVB

Annabelle Jenkins gave West Ada Superintendent Derek Bub a graphic novel adaptation of 'The Handmaid's Tale' during the Idaho Fine Arts Academy commencement on May 23

Annabelle Jenkins gave West Ada Superintendent Derek Bub a graphic novel adaptation of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ during the Idaho Fine Arts Academy commencement on May 23

Jenkins posted a TikTok, that has since garnered millions of views, showing the moment she defiantly handed Bub the book

Jenkins posted a TikTok, that has since garnered millions of views, showing the moment she defiantly handed Bub the book

‘I got up there and I got the book out. I kind of showed it to the audience really quick. He crossed his arms like this and he wouldn’t take it.’ 

Wearing a maroon cap and gown, Jenkins walked across the stage shaking the hands of every person before Bub, then took a copy of the book out when she approached him.

Bub began to hold his hand out, but when he saw the graphic novel but his hand down and refused to accept it. Ultimately Jenkins placed the book at Bubs feet and continued off the stage. 

Jenkins said she her protest came out of frustration over the book ban and not feeling like students had a say in the matter. 

‘I don’t like to be the center of attention or do things just to like get a reaction. So when I do things, I want it to be very purposeful. I want people to know that this is something deeply, deeply important to me,’ Jenkins said.

‘My goal was never to be disruptive or mess up the ceremony. And I really don’t believe that I did. I mean, at the end of the day, I think that that was my time on stage and that was my moment and that was something that was important to me to do.’

Wearing a maroon cap and gown, Jenkins walked across the stage shaking the hands of every person before Bub, then took a copy of the book out when she approached him

Wearing a maroon cap and gown, Jenkins walked across the stage shaking the hands of every person before Bub, then took a copy of the book out when she approached him

Bub began to hold his hand out, but when he saw the graphic novel but his hand down and refused to accept it, so she placed it at his feet

Bub began to hold his hand out, but when he saw the graphic novel but his hand down and refused to accept it, so she placed it at his feet

The West Ada School District told the Idaho Statesman that Jenkins’ gesture ‘unfortunately overshadowed the celebratory occasion.’ 

‘While we respect the right to voice concerns, it is important to maintain the focus on the achievements and hard work of our students during such significant milestones,’ spokesperson Niki Scheppers said.

In April, Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that will require school and public libraries to move material deemed ‘harmful to minors’ to an adults-only section or face lawsuits. 

The bill is similar to one vetoed by Little last year. If a community member complains that a book is harmful to minors, the library has 60 days to address it or children or their parents can sue the facility for $250 in damages. The new law uses Idaho’s current definition of ‘obscene materials,’ which includes any act of homosexuality.

In a letter to the Legislature, Little said he shares the desire to keep ‘truly inappropriate library materials out of the hands of minors’ but he said was disappointed lawmakers didn’t to more to protect children from ‘the harms of social media.’

Jenkins said she her protest came out of frustration over the book ban and not feeling like students had a say in the matter

Jenkins said she her protest came out of frustration over the book ban and not feeling like students had a say in the matter

The Idaho Library Association warned that the law uses vague and subjective definitions of what constitutes material that is harmful to minors and said it could result in significantly limited access to information for the public. 

The West Ada School District pulled the 10 books out of a list of 44 titles based on ratings from BookLooks.org, a website created by ‘concerned parents’ in Brevard County, Florida.

The books were reviewed by a committee made up of the district’s library coordinator, chief academic officer, curriculum director, two secondary principals and one secondary English teacher

Several librarians were invited to participate in the review, but ‘all opted out, declining to participate in the process,’ Scheppers said.

The other books removed include ‘A Stolen Life’ by Jaycee Dugard, ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sarah Gruen, two books by Sarah J. Maas and two by Rupi Kaur.



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