CBLDF Joins Coalition Defending Challenged Book in MN School District

cover-justoneday-renderCBLDF has joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project and other freedom to read advocates to defend Gayle Forman’s Just One Day in a Minnesota school district.

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.

Ben and Kandi Lovin, parents of a sixth grader in Rosemount, Minnesota, demanded the removal of Just One Day, citing “a graphic sex scene, underage drinking [and] date rape” as reasons for the removal. Erin Adler with the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune obtained the Lovins’ written challenge to the book, which demands the removal of the book from all Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan public school system libraries, not just the library of the middle school their child attends. In the complaint, the Lovins write:

“As a whole this book’s content is not appropriate for middle school, or we believe, even high school students. It covers adult themes … that most students have not been exposed to and should not be provided by the school. It is a novel that has no life lesson to be learned.”

Forman is a New York Times bestselling author, and much of her popular work — including Just One Day — is meant for young adult audiences. Just One Day focuses on a single day in the life of Allyson Healey, a young woman who travels to Europe after graduating from high school. She joins a young man, Willem, in a one-day affair in Paris, and the book follows Allyson as she comes to terms with emotional aftermath of the fling and contends with her first year of college.

A committee comprised of instructors, students, and parents in the system has been assembled to review Just One Day, and they will meet today to make their decision. If the Lovins don’t agree with the decision, they can appeal. The school system has a comprehensive policy regarding the availability of reading materials, which includes a Library Bill of Rights and written policies on the Freedom to Read and the Right to Read. The Bill of Rights in particular voices strong opposition to book bans, stating that “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

The letter reminds the review committee that “Removing the book from the library in spite of its clearly recognized value, and in response to subjective complaints about its content, would raise serious First Amendment concerns,” and urges the committee to retain the book. KRRP further points out in their letter that the removal of the book would likely violate the district’s own policies, writing:

District Policy 603.2.2.3P, “The Freedom to Read,” states that “It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large.” We strongly urge you to defend this policy by keeping Just One Day in Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan Public School District #196 libraries.

You can read the letter in its entirety below.

NCAC Letter to Rosemount: Just One Day

We need your help to keep fighting for the right to read in 2014! You can help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by visiting the Rewards Zone, making a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!