CBLDF has joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project in defending Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, which has been removed from classrooms in Vinton County High School in Ohio.
CBLDF is a sponsor of KRRP. 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 book was removed from the 10th grade English curriculum in the Vinton County High School after complaints over “foul language.” A parent posted out-of-context excerpts of the book online before filing a formal complaint. The administration responded by replacing Eleanor & Park with another novel.
The district does not appear to have a materials review policy, so KRRP urges the district to develop and adopt such a policy. The letter also warns the district about the repercussions of its actions:
Removing Eleanor and Park from the curriculum due to one parent’s complaint ignores the diversity of opinion within the community and prioritizes the opinion of a single parent over those of the parents and students who want Eleanor and Park to be taught. Schools violate First Amendment principles when they arbitrarily remove pedagogically valuable books due to personal objections about content.
The hasty removal of Eleanor and Park from the classroom after a single complaint sets a harmful precedent that may incentivize further complaints; parents are now aware that a single complaint based on a single decontextualized passage may suffice to disrupt lessons and wreak havoc on the curriculum.
This is far from the first time Eleanor & Park has been challenged in schools. Earlier this year, we joined a defense of the book after a removal in Oregon. It’s also one of the ten most challenged books of 2016.
CBLDF was joined on the KRRP letter by National Council of Teachers of English, American Booksellers for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, and PEN America.
The KRRP letter appears in full below.