Officials voted unanimously to retain Raina Telgemeier’s Drama in an elementary school library in Cheyenne, Wyoming. CBLDF wrote to support the graphic novel, and offered resources to provide context for educators, librarians, administrators, and parents who may be interested in learning more about the comic. Drama was challenged by a parent because “It takes away parents rights to teach to morals and values. Praises normalization of the LGBTQ community.” The officials retained the comic noting that, it isn’t required reading, and school libraries should have diverse collections.
According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle many local community members came out to the meeting to speak up for the graphic novel, including Lauren Lucas, a local a high school student, only 15 years old, who explained the importance of retaining comics like Drama
I think I realized I wasn’t straight probably around 8 years old. I think that if we take books like this, or even this book, specifically out of our libraries, it sends a message to kids that it’s (not being straight) a negative thing, it’s not OK, (and) they are not accepted in our school district. I think it would hurt the mental health of a lot of students, and make things 10 times harder, when it’s already a really stressful thing in a world where it’s not always accepted.
CBLDF, as sponsors of the the Kids’ Right to Read Program, a project with National Coalition Against Censorship and American Booksellers for Free Expression, penned a letter to the Laramie County School District No.1 Superintendent Dr. Boyd Brown, commending the committee thorough findings, and recommendation to retain the comic. From that letter,
The committee notes that the parent who issued the challenge has accepted the school’s offer to flag the account of the child so that he or she cannot check out material with themes of which the parent does not approve. In addition, the committee endorsed steps to ensure that parents are more aware of what materials are available in the library, and the reasons that those materials are selected. This indicates that the committee understood both that many parents are uncomfortable with their children being exposed to LGBTQ books and media, and also that a single parent cannot dictate that all students must be denied access to that material. The decision thus addresses the concerns of parents, while respecting and honoring their students’ freedom to read, to learn, and to grow.
The links featured in the letter below are free resources CBLDF designed to help librarians and educators add this graphic novel to their curriculum and collections with confidence. CBLDF works behind the scenes creating tools and providing support for those on the front lines of challenges like this one in Wyoming. Check out the resources for yourself:
This past April, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released their annual list of the most challenged and banned books of 2018, and Drama was on it for the fourth time, the most times for a graphic novel. The list was disproportionately filled with illustrated and LGBTQ+ narratives. Both genres take up a relatively small percent of children’s and YA books, but 18% of the list were comics and over 50% of the list contained LGBTQ+ characters.
Read the full letter to the Laramie County School District No. 1 below.