The school board in Henning, Minnesota voted 4-2 last night to allow Jillian and Mariko Tamakiâ€™s This One Summer back on library shelves at the districtâ€™s single K-12 school–with a few conditions. The book must be shelved in a separate section from those for younger readers, the board decided, and even students in grades 10-12 must have signed parental permission to read it.
The critically-acclaimed book was banned from Henningâ€™s single K-12 school last month after one parent complained of sexual references and profanity. The district lacks a challenge policy outlining how challenges to materials should be handled, but Superintendent Jeremy Olson tried to justify the ban by describingThis One Summer as â€śpervasively vulgarâ€ť–terminology drawn from the landmark 1982 school censorship case Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico. In that decision, a 5-4 majority of Supreme Court justices found that schools could be justified in restricting or removing books from their libraries only if the books are â€śpervasively vulgar,â€ť an undefined standard that in any case does not describe This One Summer. CBLDF and other organizational members of the CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read ProjectÂ last week sent the district a letter to that effect.
While the school boardâ€™s compromise is certainly an improvement on the previous state of affairs, when the book was banned outright, the requirement for high-school-aged students to have written parental permission just to read the book is a needless encumbrance on their First Amendment rights. Additionally, we are still hoping for the Henning School District to implement a policy for objectively handling any future challenges to library materials. Nevertheless, we are glad that the book will be returning to shelves!
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.