By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The problem of offensive reading material being assigned or made available to minors in the nation’s public schools has come to the forefront again when the father of a high school student in Virginia discovered a banned book advocating homosexual acts, rape, and bestiality in his son’s possession. The book came from a teacher at the school.
According to a report by World Net Daily (WND), John Davis, the father of an 11th grader at William Byrd High School in Vinton, Va., discovered Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky in his son’s possession. Not only was the book banned because of its offensive content, but the book belonged to Kathleen Renard, an English teacher at the school. Apparently, she gave the copy to one of her students who then passed it on to his son.
When he found the book, it had a bookmark inside reading, “Read banned books. They’re your ticket to freedom.”
“My son was reading the book and stated it was a school assignment,” Davis told WND. “He was embarrassed that I began to peruse through the book and discovered its contents. He advised that the book belongs to his English teacher, Mrs. Kathleen Renard.”
Upon reading the book, Davis discovered the following: sex acts between teenagers, suicide, extensive profanity, graphic descriptions of homosexual acts, rape of a teenage girl while she cried, molestation of a young girl by an older man, attempted sex between a boy and a dog.
Davis immediately confiscated the book and arranged to meet with Ms. Renard and William Byrd High School Principal Richard Turner. Ms. Renard was not present at the Oct. 2 meeting and the principal let Davis know “I’m not going to fire her over this.”
“I was supposed to be meeting with him and the teacher together so I could get some answers,” Davis said. “He wouldn’t let the teacher come in because he was trying to protect her.”
According to the principal, the teacher had made “a whole row” of banned books available to her students in celebration of the American Library Association’s (ALA) “Banned Book Week,” which is celebrated in schools across the nation as an effort to “promote freedom of access to ‘unorthodox or unpopular’ written works.” This year’s celebration took place during the week of Sept. 26 and it was at this time that the teacher provided her own personal copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower for students to read.
Chbosky’s book is included in the ALA’s list of the top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2008. Some of the other books which were made available to students during this week included:
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, banned because of its anti-family, pro-homosexuality and religious viewpoints.
His Dark Materials, the virulently anti-Christian, anti-Catholic trilogy by Philip Pullman
Scary Stories, a series by Alvin Schwartz and Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya that contain positive depictions of the occult and Satanism, as well as graphic sex and violence.
Parents at William Byrd High School were not informed that these banned books would be made available to students, and although the principal agreed that the teacher should not have provided the books, he also admitted that the school carried two copies of the book in its library! Only after this matter was brought to his attention did the principal ask librarians to remove it.
The problem of bad books in schools is not new and concerned parents across the country are trying to combat it, but they are facing the behemoth ALA, with its thousands of member libraries, which openly promotes “the first amendment rights” of children.
As the ALA website states: “Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to receive information through the library in print, nonprint, or digital format. Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be unsuitable for them.
“Librarians and library governing bodies should not resort to age restrictions in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections, because only a court of law can determine whether material is not constitutionally protected.”
Many parent organizations have sprung up across the nation to combat this problem. One of those organizations, the Virginia-based Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (www.PABBIS.com ), provides parents with detailed information on books that have been found in schools.
The irony is that some of the content on this site is so offensive a person must prove they are 18 years old to enter the site, even though many of the books reviewed are available in elementary schools!
Family Friendly Libraries (www.fflibraries.org) is another excellent site for parents who wish to control what books are being made available to children in schools and public libraries.
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