CBLDF has joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project and other freedom to read advocates to defend Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 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.
A teacher of 11th and 12th grade students had requested approval to use Lahiri’s award-winning novel about the immigration experience of an Indian-American family in the curriculum, but the district’s Ad Hoc Literature Committee voted 4-2 against it due to “ ‘explicit’ sex scenes that they say are ‘too graphic for whole group instruction.’ ” Earlier this year, the same committee also voted to restrict John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in 9th grade classrooms, in part because it contained “too darn much cussing.” After a local public outcry and communications from free speech advocates including CBLDF, the school board overruled the committee’s decision regarding Steinbeck’s classic.
In a letter sent in advance of a school board meeting tonight, KRRP partners once again urged board members to act in the interest of academic freedom and First Amendment rights:
As you are aware, school officials are bound by a constitutional duty not to suppress unpopular, controversial, or “objectionable” ideas. Making a decision based on the unquestionable pedagogical merit of the book, rather than on objections to isolated passages, is consistent with recognized educational principles, ensures that constitutional principles are maintained in the district, and is in the best interests of the Coeur d’Alene School District and its students.
Read the full letter below, and stay tuned for updates after the upcoming board meeting!
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