NCAC and five co-signing organizations are strongly urging Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas to reinstate Alison Bechdel’s much-lauded graphic novel, Fun Home, to its reading list. Media reports suggest that the Nevada high school’s principal removed Fun Home from the tenth grade English honors reading list immediately upon receipt of a complaint, despite district policy mandating the formation of a review committee to address book challenges.
Although Fun Home deals with mature themes, it has been appropriately assigned to mature sophomores at Palo Verde High under the guidance of trained educators. District regulations permit parents who object to the book to request that their children be assigned other works. However, a small group of parents, who might well represent only a tiny minority of parents in the school district, have been granted de facto veto power over the curriculum, without input from other stakeholders. That is precisely the outcome that the district’s regulations are designed to avoid.
Fun Home was lauded by critics for its groundbreaking innovations in two literary genres: The graphic novel and LGBTQ literature. In particular, critics praised it as an exemplar of how effectively the graphic novel can advance narrative, as well as its introduction of themes which had previously been largely neglected in LGBT literature. Finally, the book became the basis for a musical play which was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and which won the Tony Award for Best Musical the following year. In 2019, the book was ranked 33rd on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century.
This removal follows a trend of attacks on LGBTQ stories in schools and libraries. Earlier this year, NCAC released a statement signed by over 40 national organizations condemning nationwide attempts to block young people from accessing LGBTQ stories. Eighty percent of the books on this year’s list of most challenged books from the American Library Association tell LGBTQ stories. A strong education demands exposure to diverse viewpoints, ideas and experiences. Parents who object to specific books in schools may ask for alternate assignments for their own children. What they cannot be permitted to do is determine what books, art or ideas are available to other young people.
Along with the American Booksellers for Free Expression, Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, PEN America Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, we urge the district to return the book to classrooms and conduct a formal review, as their policy demands, and ultimately to retain Fun Home on reading lists.
Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: