In a win for Kids’ Right to Read and free expression, a Massachusetts middle school has decided to retain Sex is a Funny Word, an award-winning book about puberty, after its removal from the library was demanded by a small number of parents who deemed the book “inappropriate” and “poison”.
The book remains on the shelves at Baird Middle School in Ludlow, MA, after the Ludlow superintendent and the school board, refusing to bow to pressure from a minority of parents, insisted that district policies regarding challenges to curriculum be followed. Pursuant to that policy, the book was reviewed by a committee which recommended retaining the book on library shelves. As provided by district policy, individual parents who object to a particular book can prevent their own children from checking that book out of the library.
NCAC is heartened by this outcome. The concerns of individual parents were heard and addressed, while the rights of other students and parents are protected. Ludlow Public Schools had in place clear, comprehensive, and fair rules to follow when concerned parents challenge educational materials. This case demonstrates the importance of having district and school leaders who are dedicated to following those procedures and to protecting the rights of all stakeholders.
NCAC’s guide for administrators who wish to develop sound rules for addressing curriculum challenges can be found here.