In advance of a school board meeting in Buncombe County, North Carolina, tonight, CBLDF has once more joined with a coalition of free speech advocacy organizations led by the Kids’ Right to Read Project in sending a letter urging the board to accept the recommendation of two review committees to allow Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner back into 10th grade Honors English classrooms.
The Kite Runner was challenged earlier this year by parent and former school board member Lisa Baldwin, who objected to depictions of “homosexuality and sexually explicit scenes.” A school-level review committee decided in May that the book was appropriate for the Honors English class, especially since teacher Brooke Bowman gave students the option to skip the potentially disturbing rape scene or choose an alternate reading assignment, All Quiet on the Western Front. Baldwin appealed the first review committee’s decision, meaning that according to district policy the book cannot be used in the classroom until the challenge is resolved. The entire class read All Quiet on the Western Front instead.
Last week, a district-wide review committee also unanimously recommended that the school board reinstate Hosseini’s novel. In her appeal to that review committee, Baldwin added another objection to the book, saying that it “inaccurately assign[s] Judeo-Christian characteristics to a Muslim god.”
In the letter sent Monday, NCAC urged the board to not only return The Kite Runner to the curriculum, but also to take another look at the policy provision which says challenged books are removed from the classroom until the challenge is resolved. The letter explained:
A complainant should not be able to disrupt an entire classroom while the complaint is being considered or the material in question is being reviewed. Doing so compromises the rights of the students and the integrity of the system. The suspension of the book in this case, due to the unit’s proximity to the end of the school year, meant that it was effectively and permanently removed from the 2014-2015 A.C. Reynolds High School’s English II Honors class.
Whatever the school board decides tomorrow night, it will be the final step for this challenge as Baldwin has no further options for appeal. We hope to bring you good news on Wednesday! Read the entire letter from NCAC below.
Second Letter from NCAC re: Kite Runner
Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work in 2015 by visiting the Rewards Zone, making a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.