The largest school district in Idaho has banned from its curriculum an award-winning book about the struggles of a Native American teenager after complaints by parents that the novel was rife with profanity, racial epithets and anti-Christian rhetoric.
The school board in Meridian, Idaho, voted 2-1 this week to keep the book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” off a supplemental reading list for 10th graders, meaning it will not be part of the curriculum at the high school, said school board clerk Trish Duncan.
The 2007 Sherman Alexie novel, which won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, is still available in the school’s library, she said.
Bonnie Stiles, mother of four students in Meridian schools, said she pushed for the removal from the high school curriculum after reading the book and counting 133 profane or offensive words in its 230 pages.
Gretchen Caserotti, director of public libraries in Meridian, spoke in favor of not placing restrictions on that or other books during a recent public meeting about the Alexie novel.
From the Associated Press:
“It is the very idea that our education is being censored,” said Mountain View High School student Brady Kissel, who brought a petition with 350 signatures asking the board to keep the book.
But most speakers, more than 100, wanted the book banned.
Lonnie Stiles said the book forces children to encounter words “we do not speak in our home.”
Video Report from KBOI-Boise
From the Text of the KBOI Report:
“For a lot of kids, this is the only place that they’re (going to) find out that education is an escape from poverty,” said Amy Armstrong, a middle school librarian. “It inspires kids from backgrounds of all kinds to reach for goals that seem unattainable.”
Superintendent Linda Clark said emails the district received ahead of the meeting appeared to be “evenly distributed” with about half on each side.
“These children came from our wombs,” said Sharon Blair, the grandmother who initially complained to the district. “You have them as teachers for a small part of the day. We have them for a lifetime, and I do not want our children exposed to explicit, filthy, racist things.”