It’s no secret that the buckle of the Bible belt has a hard time keeping its fingers out of the cookie jar that is censorship, and Norman’s Whittier Middle School has pulled another crumbled cookie out of the jar.
This time the victim is Young Adult author Ellen Hopkins, whose visit to the middle school was canceled after a concerned parent spoke out against content in her book Glass.
YA authors like Maureen Johnson and John Green are no strangers to censorship, especially of their own books that are contemporary and deal with tougher issues than Dick and Jane. This new generation of Young Adult literature has brought to the table discussion of sexuality (some of the LGBT variety), dissolution of the nuclear family, death, misery – all things that teenagers have to work through every day – and parents are none too happy about it.
My stance has always been that it’s not a problem for me to read about these things because, a) It’s real life, and b) I heard about it in middle and high school anyway, so what’s the big deal? I was fortunate enough to have parents who felt the same way, and didn’t stop me from reading anything I wanted (although I once tried to check out a Danielle Steel novel from the library without realizing it probably wasn’t appropriate for fifth grade, and my mom nixed that one).
A Whittier parent objected to the content of “Glass” and requested a formal curriculum review, per district policy. The school district didn’t have time to complete the review before the visit, so it was canceled, said Superintendent Joe Siano (NewsOK).
Hopkins, ever classy, was invited and accepted an opportunity to speak at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore, Okla., on the same night.
While I disagree with book banning on any level, I think the district took appropriate action for the situation. Of course it’s not fair that the curriculum was challenged and I think it was wrong to do so in the first place, but it’s not like Siano could have just let things go as they were. Talk about a lawsuit of some sort. Hopefully this instance creates an amendment to prevent situations like this from happening again, such as requiring complaints to be created in time for the review to be made.
The most interesting part of the whole debacle is that Glass, sequel to the popular YA novel Crank, is loosely based on the life of Hopkins’ own daughter Kristina and her spiral from straight-A student to drug addict. Clearly, these are issues that real teenagers are facing, and it strikes me as ironic that parents are still trying to shelter their children from the real world. I’m not suggesting we all shoot up just to see what it’s like, but at the same time, ignorance breeds consequences. We all know the merits of abstinence-only sex-ed, right? We also now know the consequences.
What are your thoughts on censorship in public schools? Should it be allowed? Where is the line at which we “must protect innocent minds”?