New York, NY, 10/27/2017- UPDATE: The Biloxi junior high school that had removed To Kill a Mockingbird from 8th grade classrooms will return the book to an optional reading list. Students who choose to study the book will be required to submit a permission slip signed by their parents. In addition, the school will offer after-school sessions for students interested in a deeper examination of the novel. Students who fail to turn in a permission slip for To Kill a Mockingbird will be assigned a different novel for in-depth study.

New York, NY, 10/17/2017- The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and six other organizations committed to defending the freedom to read are urging a Mississippi school district to rescind its classroom ban of Harper Lee’s literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird. The book was removed from the Biloxi Public School District’s middle school curriculum after complaints about its “uncomfortable” and racially sensitive subject matter. The decision was made without a committee review to determine the book’s educational merit as required by district policy.

In a letter to the school superintendent, the groups argue that the decision to immediately remove the book deprives students of their right to read an essential part of the American literary canon. Although some may understandably dislike the book’s use of racial slurs, it is essential to any realistic and pedagogically sound understanding of our nation’s history.

The free speech groups urge the district to restore the book to the middle school curriculum and follow its formal review policy.

The letter is signed by NCAC, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Council of Teachers of English, American Association of Publishers, American Booksellers for Free Expression, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

“Accurately understanding the past is crucial to understanding our society today,” said Abena Hutchful, NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program associate director. “There is arguably no better way for students to do this than by engaging with the rich story and themes found in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Read the statement below; click here for a full screen view.