NCAC Censorship News Issue #68:


Reason Prevails…

…in the Levittown, New York public schools where Robert Lypsyte’s novel, One
Fat Summer, was restored after representatives of NCAC, the Nassau County Chapter
of NY Civil Liberties Union, and the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship
met with school officials. The book had been removed as required reading after
a complaint about violence and vulgarity (Censorship News 67), but administrators
say the book was removed because it is too easy for seventh-grade developmental
reading. Superintendent Sirois agreed that faculty and the wider community perceived
the removal as a response to criticism of the book’s subject matter. As a result
of the meeting, Sirois has informed faculty that “the book has not been removed
for content and, indeed, may well be appropriate for use in other courses such
as English literature, ethics, psychology, health, or in a lower level developmental
reading class.” He also assured teachers that they are free to choose books that
meet developmental guidelines.

…and in Pecos, Texas where
Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, taught in an accelerated high school English
class, had been called “objectionable” after similar challenges to Morrison’s
Beloved, Hinton’s The Outsiders, and Golding’s Lord of The Flies.
School board members apologized for hearing the complaint prematurely, after the
English Department chair described the devastating effect on intellectual development
when works of literary merit are removed for containing some “objectionable” words.

Reason Did Not Prevail…
…in Franklin County, North Carolina where the school board ordered three
chapters sliced out of its ninth-grade health textbook, Making Life Choices:
Health Skills and Concepts
. The exorcized chapters deal with AIDS, HIV and
other sexually transmitted diseases; pairing, marriage and parenting; and sexual
behavior and contraception. “Shades of 1936, Germany,” high school principal Wayne
Wilbourne reportedly said when the bowdlerized books were returned to the students.

…again in North Carolina
where Hertford County school officials buried a gay-themed book and 2,000 others
deemed “inappropriate” in a landfill. The offending book that instigated the dumping
was purportedly called The Gay Handbook, although no such book is in print,
according to the Washington, D.C. gay bookstore, Lambda Rising. The books were
among 30,000 donated to the school system by the international charity group,
World Vision and Feed the Children, distributed to needy school districts by Communities
in Schools, a national group based in Alexandria, Virginia.

…nor in Panama City, Florida,
where award-winning English teacher, ReLeah Lent, was removed as advisor to the
high school newspaper when school administrators decided the paper should promote
a “more positive” image of the school. Student journalists’ articulate appeals
for Lent’s reinstatement have not been successful. Lent is appealing to the courts.