We’ve reached the midpoint of 2013, and the fact that it’s Independence Day is an important reminder of the principles on which our country was founded, not least of which is the First Amendment and its guarantee of free expression. Let’s take a look back at some of the important victories CBLDF has scored for the First Amendment and the right to read…
CBLDF helped score a victory for free speech when the Glen Ellyn, Illinois, school board lifted their ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This victory was hard won by a grassroots movement that included letters from CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project, a letter-writing campaign led by the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the vocal opposition of students, teachers, parents, and even acclaimed author Judy Blume.
CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project and several other free speech organizations signed a letter in defense of the definitive edition of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, which one woman wanted removed from classrooms based on a single passage that describes Frank’s exploration of her own body. In a victory for free speech, the Michigan school district to which the letter was addressed elected to keep the book in middle school classrooms, siding with CBLDF’s argument that the book’s removal would amount to censorship!
When Chicago Public Schools tried to remove Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis from classrooms and libraries, they likely didn’t expect the rampant protest that followed. CBLDF was on the front lines in signing not one, but two letters to CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett decrying this act of censorship. CBLDF scored a qualified victory when CPS rescinded the removal order, but the book was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and remains under review for use in Grades 8 – 10.
CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project sent a letter to the Prosser School District outside Yakima, Washington, in defense of A Child Called “It” and The Popularity Papers. Both books had been challenged as inappropriate by a high school social studies teacher in the district. The Prosser school district’s Materials Committee has recommended A Child Called “It” remain available to students. A short time later, the committee also voted to retain The Popularity Papers.