New York, NY 11/30/2017- Cody District Public Schools will convene a committee in early December to determine whether Tanya Stone’s acclaimed novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, will remain in the Cody High School library after a single parent complaint led to an appeal for its removal. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and co-signing organizations are urging Tim Foley, Assistant Superintendent of Cody District Public Schools, to keep the novel on library shelves. Allowing the views of one parent to influence what books belong in the school library privileges the subjective beliefs of one over the education of all and threatens students’ First Amendment rights.
In early November, a single parent complained about sexual content in A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl and demanded its removal from Cody High School Library. The school district plans to convene a complaint committee to review the book. NCAC and the assembled coalition of literary and educational organizations have sent a letter to Mr. Foley, as well as the Cody District Public Schools Governing Board, in advance of the upcoming committee meeting to offer guidance on their review of the book.
Decisions about what books to offer in school libraries should be based primarily on pedagogical principles and the expertise of trained educators, not the personal beliefs of community members. The educational and literary merits of a challenged book must be carefully considered. In this case, the novel in question has appeared on distinguished literary lists from the American Library Association, New York Public Library and School Library Journal.
As NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program Manager, Abena Hutchful, explains, “Literature holds a unique place in helping young people cope with the challenges of growing up and books like A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl can provide a safe space to explore those challenges and develop empathy for others facing similar problems.”
While not every book is right for every reader, the role of school libraries is to allow students and parents to make choices according to their own interests, experiences and family values. However, no parent, student or community member may impose their views, values and interests on others by restricting an entire community’s access to particular books.
NCAC has offered support and guidance to Cody District Public Schools in addressing this current attempt to censor student reading and in setting clearer guidelines for handling such book challenges in the future. The removal of this novel from the Cody High School library would limit student access to a necessary voice for many readers based on the disapproval of a vocal minority, setting a dangerous precedent for ignoring students’ First Amendment rights in the district.
Read the full letter below; click here for a full screen view.