Articles

The Fight to End School Censorship

Today’s article shines a spotlight on a tough topic, censorship, with a focus on one of the most recent cases in the US.

The Fight To End School Censorship
By Kathryn Poole

“Looking for Alaska has once again been challenged, this time by a few parents at Marion County High School, Kentucky for ‘erotic’ content,” John Green wrote in early April, following a group’s effort to pull the book from the school’s curriculum. The author even posted to his Facebook page, asking for support.

John Green is no stranger to censorship. On his Twitter, he writes “This is not the first time Looking for Alaska has been challenged, nor will it probably be the last.”

In fact, according to the American Library Association, Looking for Alaska was the most challenged book in 2015. Books like Looking for Alaska are often pulled from curriculums due to what is considered “vulgar content”. Parents at Marion County complained that it was “pornographic” and “erotic”, choosing to read aloud only specific passages to the community. Some parents and community members have even gone so far as to demand that the teacher be fired. In his Facebook post, John Green asks supporters to write letters to the school in support of the teacher.

It’s sad to see that even in 2016 books are still being challenged. Looking for Alaska is so much more than the very few inappropriate scenes it contains. Like many of John Green’s books, it has reoccurring themes such as growing older and overcoming tragedy. The author clarifies this in his post, writing “I am so grateful to those at Marion County High School who have supported Looking for Alaska and understand that I am not out to corrupt teenagers, and who further understand the importance of reading books critically and thoughtfully as a whole, rather than focusing on individual scenes ripped from their context.”

Not surprisingly, Looking for Alaska is not the first book to be questioned. Even Harry Potter has been challenged for, yes (as crazy as it sounds), promoting witchcraft. Organizations such as the Freedom to Read Foundation and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression are working to prevent further challenges.

If there is any silver-lining, controversies like this are bringing attention and discussion to a topic that deserves support.