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Parent's complaint prompts book's removal from curriculum

By The Associated Press
02.09.06

ORONO, Maine — A book being read by freshman English classes at Orono High School has been temporarily removed from the curriculum after a parent complained about its strong language and vivid descriptions.

A four-member committee made up of the principal, a teacher, the librarian and a community member are reviewing Suzanna Kaysen's memoir, Girl, Interrupted, to consider whether it is appropriate for classroom use.

The book is Kaysen's memoir of being hospitalized in a mental institution at age 18 and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Superintendent Kelly Clenchy said it contains graphic descriptions of sexual acts and suicide.

"I really don't think that we should be in the business of censorship," Clenchy said. "What we really need to do is make sure that the resources that we're using is aligning with our philosophy and the Maine Learning Results."

About a year ago, Noble High School in Berwick rejected a request to remove J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye from freshman reading lists because of what a parent described as scenes depicting immorality, discussions of sexuality, disrespect toward adults and teachers, use of alcohol and tobacco, lying and profanity.

"Challenging books is alive and well," said Melora Norman, Intellectual Freedom chairwoman for the New England Library Association. "Banning books and burning books still happens, (but) you don't hear it as much because media attention is more focused on (the) graphical aspect."

The chairman of the Orono school board said the review committee does not simply look at specific excerpts from the reading, but must consider the book and subject matter as a whole.

The review committee "wants to look at the structure of the book, the reasons it's used in the classroom, (and) the materials behind it," he said.

Clenchy said the decision to temporarily pull the book pending the review is an issue of resources and protocol.

"To leave (the book) in the classroom without fully understanding why it was there wasn't doing justice, I don't think, to the children that we serve," he said.


Related

Choosing what Johnny can read

School systems often agonize over which controversial books are acceptable to assign to students — and when to fight for them when objections arise. 10.30.05

N.J. school board pulls book with racial slur from reading list
Parent's complaint prompts officials to remove The Well by Mildred D. Taylor from elementary school's Black History Month list. 01.29.06

Banned books

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