Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an award-winning account of science, ethics and medical history. It tells the riveting story of how one woman's cancerous cells were taken without her permission, and became an essential medical research breakthrough linked to an array of projects, including the polio vaccine.
One parent in Tennessee has another word for it: Pornography.
The book is on the summer reading list at the L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville. And that is a problem for Jackie Sims, who thinks the book is inappropriate for high school students. As local station WBIR reports, "Her son has been provided with an alternate text, per district policy, but Sims said she wants the text out of the hands of all Knox County Schools students." The district has a policy for dealing with such complaints, and have expressed confidence in the judgments of their educators.
One other local parent has weighed in on the freedom to read:
To try and stop the book from being read by all students is, to me, a modern day kind of book burning…. If someone comes along and tries to take the book out of the curriculum, then that affects me and that affects my child…If the parent doesn't want the child to read it, the parent doesn't want the child to read it, but do not take away everybody else's choice to read that book.
Author Rebecca Skloot also chimed in on Facebook:
Just in time for #BannedBooksWeek, a parent in Tennessee has confused gynecology with pornography and is trying to get my book banned from the Knoxville high school system
Skloot also points to a comment on her Facebook page from the vice principal of the L&N STEM Academy: "Know that the book and teachers have the complete support from the administration of the school. It's an amazing book that fits with our STEM curriculum better than almost any book could! The next book that the sophomores are reading? Fahrenheit 451… Oh, sweet, sweet, irony."