Drama Banned Again in Texas, ACLU Report Shows

dramacoverFor the third time in four years, Raina Telgemeier’s Drama was considered too hot for a Texas school, according to the state ACLU chapter’s latest banned books report which was recently released. In fact, the graphic novel about an adolescent theater troupe was the only book completely banned from any district; this time, it was the Franklin Independent School District.

As usual, Drama most likely was challenged at Franklin Middle School due to the storyline involving a crush between two male friends of main character Callie. The book also was banned from Chapel Hill Elementary in Mount Pleasant in 2014, and from Kirbyville Middle School last year.

The ACLU report also shows that two manga series were challenged in 2016-2017. First, as previously reported in the overlapping 2015-2016 report, was Black Butler by Yana Toboso. Volumes 5 and 6 of the series about a Victorian earl who sells his soul to a demon were challenged at the publicly funded charter Harmony School of Advancement as “offensive to religious sensitivities,” but ultimately retained.

The manga series based on James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books, adapted and illustrated by NaRae Lee, also was challenged at Franklin Middle School–possibly at the same time as Drama. The complaint cited “inappropriate language” for the age group, and the school responded by barring younger students from accessing the series.

Although school districts are required by law to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests like the ones sent by the ACLU seeking information on challenges, only 44% actually did so in time for the 2016-2017 report. The other challenges and resolutions tabulated in the report–which again may duplicate some of the previous report–are as follows:

  • Malcolm X By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers
    Blum ISD, Blum High School: Offensive to religious sensitivities; politically, racially, or socially offensive.
    Resolution: student given alternate assignment.
  • True Colors (series) by Melody Carlson
    Franklin ISD, Franklin Middle School: inappropriate situations for age group.
    Resolution: younger students restricted from access.
  • 1984 by George Orwell
    Lake Travis ISD, Lake Travis Middle School: inappropriate for age group.
    Resolution: student given alternate assignment.
  • More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    Lake Travis ISD, Lake Travis Elementary School: violence or horror.
    Resolution: pending; book currently removed from library.
  • Beyond the Grave by Judith Herbst
    River Place Elementary, Leander ISD: “photographs will scare children and give them nightmares.”
    Resolution: book transferred to middle school.
  • Boxers by Tammy Gagne
    Camacho Elementary, Leander ISD: mention of bull-baiting in nonfiction book about history of Boxer dogs.
    Resolution: retained.
  • “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes
    Montgomery ISD, Montgomery Junior High: profanity; sexual content or nudity; violence or horror.
    Resolution: unknown.
  • I Survived (the Attacks of September 11, 2001) by Lauren Tarshis
    New Braunfels ISD, Memorial Elementary School: objected to use of the word “terrorist.”
    Resolution: retained.
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
    Orenda Charter School District, Gateway College Preparatory School: Violence or horror; offensive to religious sensitivities.
    Resolution: retained.
  • The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
    Poth ISD, Poth Junior High: violence or horror; offensive to religious sensitivities.
    Resolution: student given alternate assignment.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Taylor ISD, Taylor Middle School: politically, racially, or socially offensive.
    Resolution: retained.
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Uplift Charter Schools, North Hills Preparatory: reason for challenge unknown.
    Resolution: retained.
  • Like Water for Chocolate (excerpts) by Laura Esquivel
    Uplift Charter Schools, North Hills Preparatory: too complex for grade level.
    Resolution: excerpts continue to be used in grades 11-12 Spanish International Baccalaureate course.

Check out the full report for 2016-2017 here at the Texas ACLU’s website.

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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.