Petition Challenges School District’s Attempt to Ban Books

A petition on came to CBLDF’s attention this week. The petition challenges a proposed policy in the Muhlenberg School District in Reading, Pennsylvania, that would require all teachers in the district “to read and check each [book] for violence, language, sexual intensity, etc. and whatever they deem as ‘inappropriate’ will be taken out of the class libraries.” If such a policy exists and is passed by the school board, it poses a significant threat to the right to read in the district.

There are few details regarding the district’s proposed policy, but it appears that students in the district are behind the petition. They describe their motivation behind the protest:

I’ll tell you right now that we’re angry. We’re angry because they think that we can’t handle reading young adult literature, most of which contains real world issues that people go through everyday. We’re angry that they’re trying to blind us and prevent us from learning about it. We’re angry that they think they can handicap our education. They can’t tell us to act like adults and go off doing this like we’re still a bunch of middle schoolers. We refuse to be idle.

While details are scant, we were able to determine that book challenges have been a problem in the district in the past. In 2005, a battle erupted over The Buffalo Tree by Adam Rapp. Parents in the community opposed sexual content and language in the novel, and it was removed from 11th grade classrooms. Opponents to the book also called for a rating system for all books on the district’s reading lists, a policy that the school board mandated despite opposition from educators. It’s unknown whether the rating system is still in place.

CBLDF will be following the story closely and will post more details if they become available. You can view the petition here.

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