On Monday, CBLDF joined a coalition led by the National Coalition Against Censorship to defend two history books used in 10th grade classrooms in Charlotte County, Florida. The school board convened this week to decide the fate of the books and voted unanimously to keep them in classrooms.
CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.
The books in question — The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History and World History: Connections to Today — were challenged by ACT! for America, a “non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to promoting national security and defeating terrorism.” The group claims that the books promote an “Islamist agenda” and contain “specific inaccuracies and misrepresentations.” ACT!’s complaints prompted the formation of a special world history textbook review committee, which voted 8-2 in support of keeping the books in classrooms. District Superintendent Doug Whittaker agreed with the decision, but subsequent complaints, mostly from local members of ACT!, led to this week’s school board meeting.
Members of ACT!, which were described by local press as mostly older adults, attended the meeting, but they did not convince the board to overturn the decisions of the review committees and superintendent. Laura Roberts, a reporter with a local NBC affiliate, shared Superintendent Whittaker’s response to the school board’s decision:
Superintendent Whittaker said if parents had an issue with the way teachers were using the texts, he would have heard about it as the books have been in use for more than eight years.
“They take a neutral view and teach religion as it appears in history,” he said. “Otherwise we would have heard a complaint.”
Opponents to the books didn’t agree with Whittaker’s assessment, with one claiming “This is a religious indoctrination that does not belong in a history class,” during the school board meeting. Regardless, the board sided with the First Amendment and refused to let a vocal minority from imposing their narrow political viewpoint on students by keeping the books in classrooms. CBLDF applauds the decision!