NEW YORK, NY, February 13, 2007 – The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) today welcomed a Michigan school board’s decision to reject demands that it censor Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye , Richard Wright’s Black Boy , Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five , and Erin Gruwell’s The Freedom Writers Diary . The Howell school board voted 5-2 last night to allow high school juniors to continue to read the books. “The Board made the right decision, from an educational and constitutional perspective, in supporting students’ freedom to read and the school’s professional selection and review process for curriculum materials,” NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin said. “We are pleased that students in Howell will continue to be able to read these acclaimed works of literature in their classes.”
The books were challenged by members of a local group, the Livingston Organization for Values in Education (LOVE), because they contain sexual themes and profanity. LOVE was assisted by the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association, which also assisted in the filing of a complaint with the State Attorney General and the US Department of Justice, claiming that the books violate laws against child pornography and child sexual abuse.
Last night, however, school board members expressed support for the books and the curriculum development process, which involves numerous educators serving on several different committees. Parents who object to the content of the books may request alternative assignments, the board said.
ABFFE and NCAC joined a number of free speech advocates in sending a letter to the school board opposing the censorship of the books targeted by LOVE. The other signers of the letter were the Association of American Publishers, People For the American Way, Aria Booksellers of Howell, the Great Lakes Booksellers Association, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Peacefire.org, PEN American Center, Feminists for Free Expression, and the Youth Advisory Board of the Youth Free Expression Network.