Friday, July 17, 2009

Topic: Censorship

10-second review: Am I Blue, a book discussing homosexuality is challenged by a parent who cites a moderately sexually “enticing” scene as inappropriate for middle schoolers. The book was available in the library and was not required reading in class.

Title: “Defending Am I Blue.” WJ Broz. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (February 2002), 340-350. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Summary: The author, now teaching at the college level, but who had taught in the school district in which the incident occurred, tells about a censorship incident concerning Am I blue, a book that reveals personal stories about homosexuality. It was not required reading. The parent who challenged it wanted the book removed from the library. A committee had reviewed the book as a whole and recommended that the school board take no action about removing it from the library.

Comment: The author wrote a letter to the members of the school board concerning the book challenge. In my opinion the paragraphs and the letter were too long, the language was verbose, and he took too long to get to his points. Further, he insulted the members of the board by asserting that their decision would be influenced by the number of books they had read. True, but his comment implies that members of the board were uneducated or probably not well read. He also suggested that if the book were removed from the library, the precedent would initiate a procedure of combing classrooms and libraries for materials to censor, perhaps an unwarranted assumption.

His main point was that if a policy was in place to organize a committee to read, comment on and recommend retention of the book, or its removal, the board should follow the policy and accept the recommendation. The board did, by a vote of 5 to 2. The board members were critical of the author’s letter as condescending.

I think it was helpful of the writer to retell this incident in such detail in this article. The reader can learn from the experience and from his efforts to influence the decision.

In the next blog, I am going to review what the National Council of Teachers of English suggests for preparing for censorship incidents. RayS.

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