Girls Who Code book series banned in some US classrooms

Books aimed at encouraging tween girls to code appear to have allegedly been removed from classrooms in Pennsylvania's Central York School District.

The "banned" books are the first four in the Girls Who Code Series: The Friendship Code, Team BFF: Race to the Finish! , Girls Who Code, Lights, Music, Code! , and Spotlight on Coding Club!.

The four tomes come from nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, which bills itself as working to close the technology industry's gender gap and change the image of "what a programmer looks like and does."

The group works toward its goal with its books, summer camps, immersion programs, after school coding clubs, and more.

The Girls Who Code series is a mashup of the Babysitters Club and Computer Science 101. A group of four or five (depending which book in the series you are on) diverse tween girls navigate friendship, life, coding and hackathons while the authors drop some code fragments into the storyline.

It's the type of stuff parents buy their kids in the hope it might make IT seem cool.

But apparently not everyone found it aspirational as the four books ended up on freedom of expression advocacy group PEN America's Index of School Book Bans, which states the series was "banned in the classroom" sometime between July 1, 2021 and June 20, 2022.

Girls Who Code's founder, Reshma Saujani has pinned the ban on a group called "Moms for Liberty", which advocates for parental rights in schools and oversight of educational material.

Saujani detailed her reaction to finding the books on the PEN America list:

The founder later tweeted "Maybe they don't want girls to learn to code because that's a way to be economically secure..."

Saujani also vowed to fight back against Moms for Liberty through her other nonprofit, Marshall Plan for Moms.

The Register reached out to Girl Who Code, Moms for Liberty and Pennsylvania's Central York School District to better understand the offending content within the series but did not immediately receive a response.

Online book reviews suggest the Girls Who Code books are innocuous. One review read:

Moms of Liberty (MFL) lists many instances of its members bring quoted in conservative media, all of them featuring comment critical of topics such as critical race theory, sex education, and inclusive gender language.

As for banning books, MFL cofounder Tina Descovich told Fox News the group is only concerned with children's access to pornography and sexually explicit material in the school environment.

"I haven't seen any of our chapters that want to get rid of any books that help children find characters they identify with," said Descovich. She also conceded "there are a lot of books in grey areas."

The Register was unable to find any signs of pornographic or sexually explicit material within reviews or summaries describing the Girls Who Code books.

Pennsylvania's Central York School District is reportedly in a critical political swing region where Girls Who Code has an active club.

One Twitter user said their daughter had quite enjoyed the Girls Who Code summer coding program, but their beef lay in content the organisation included in its mailing list, which in the past touched on abortion, and the rights of transgender people.

"I love the missions to get girls interested in programing I just do not appreciate it with a side of politics" said the mom and Twitter-er. ®

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