District 41's Ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"Those who seek to protect children from thoughtful artistic content may well instead 'protect' them from a full and complete education"–Julian Darius

Congrats to everyone on all your hard work: the board voted to reinstate the book!

A pair of talented, smart, motivated Hadley students just created a video to help show student voices and galvanize support for overturning the ban! Check it out here.

ALARMING UPDATE: A designated anti-gay hate group, Illinois Family Institute, is trying to rally support for the ban, which is going under consideration again on Monday, June 10. Please write to the Board of Education members ASAP to have your voice heard on the issue; you are welcome to use this draft letter and contact all the members simultaneously. Also, if you’re in the area and want to show up in support of reinstating the book, the board meeting will be next Monday, June 10 at the Central Services Office, 793 N Main St. Glen Ellyn, at 7:30. Anyone who wants to speak can fill out a green form before the meeting and give it into the secretary. They’ll be able to speak before the board votes.

THE BAN

perks3

Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board of Education  recently voted 4-2 to ban The Perks of Being a Wallflower from Hadley Junior High School,  despite a review committee of teachers and administrators recommending that the book be allowed to stay. The ban was requested by two parents of an 8th grade student. Learn more or see what the media has been saying.

TAKE ACTION

Sign the petition.

Email the school board or send snail mail to District 41 Central Services Office, 793 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137.

The school board has changed members since the vote to ban Perks (my apologies for not having this info up on the site earlier; I wasn’t clear on the term changes). Sam Black will be board president until 2015; according to The Glen Ellyn Patch, he “said while he’s reluctant to censor material, he agreed the issues addressed in the book have no place in a middle school.”

6 comments on “

  1. Tom Fairbank
    May 16, 2013

    I appreciate the passion of those who wish to reverse the ban on, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” at Hadley Jr. High.

    However, I think that parents who are not comfortable with their children reading this book should have the option for their kids to not read this book in school. The current policy of Hadley allows students to read the book outside of school. Also, as someone who has never read this book, I believe that I learned to deal with the issues discussed in this book using other resources, and this same approach could be done by current students as well.

    I love the fact that in Glen Ellyn very few kids go to private school. Public schools bring communities together and reduce class differences. One way to protect public schools is to welcome parental input and find alternative methods to teach on the social issues addressed in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.

    I am thankful to all who wish to protect freedom of speech. This is a wonderful value, and even though I’m open to the possibility of Hadley Jr. High using other books besides “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in their curriculum, I’m glad that so many who come from Glen Ellyn support the first Amendment rights of children.

    • Dear Tom,

      As your better and more cunning brother, I’m shocked to hear you support this ban. As Corrine mentions, this book deals with many heavy issues, including the silence and pain surrounding sexual abuse. Banning this book would keep that silence going, tacitly approving it when the opposite is needed. Especially considering your and my shared experience of being “wallflowers” in junior high, as well as our families histories with some of these issues, books like these speak to people like us in so many ways. As for 6, 7 and 8th graders, they should have a choice.

      Honestly, if I was still at Hadley? And mom supported a ban on this book? First thing I’d do would be go and buy it online or from a man in a trench coat under a bridge, because it must be one badass book. And it is!

      This is the first book that made me cry. Like, really, really cry. And I liked that! I liked that a book could make me feel that way, that the author could arrange the 26 letters of the alphabet in such a way to make me weep. I strongly believe that kids in Glen Ellyn need to cry. It’s good for them. It builds character that most Glen Ellyn kids don’t earn in their daily life. They need to know that sexual abuse, depression, pain, agony, social anxiety and drug use occur. The book doesn’t approve of these things–quite the opposite in fact. But they are part of our world, and a book is a wonderful way to make people aware of them (and their pitfalls).

      Again, as people have previously mentioned, this book was not required reading. It was optional. So, if you’re a Glen Ellyn parent and you don’t approve of amazing literature with great character development and a positive moral at the end, sure, don’t let your son Ted read this book. But if you can consider for a moment that allowing kids to read about the harrowing experiences in “Perks” might be a way to safeguard your child from such events–and make them all around cooler teenagers who enjoy listening to The Smiths–then let them read this book.

      The movie isn’t that good though,
      Greg Fairbank

  2. Corinne
    May 18, 2013

    Tom, this book WAS optional. It was on a list of “independent reading” suggestions. This book wasn’t being taught in the classroom or forced on students, it was simply available to students as a reading option. I agree with your comments about kids going to public school, but I don’t think letting parents be involved should mean letting parents make decisions for other students and parents. If they want to research the reading list and choose some books for their child not to read, that is totally fine. But to take away books that might help other students is not an appropriate form of parental input. Banning means, I believe, that it won’t be available in the library for ANY kids. And there are some kids who need this book. (And, since you haven’t read it, I can fill in a bit that this book deals with the fall out from sexual abuse, something that many kids might actually be dealing with themselves. It also deals with depression, suicide, recreational drug use–which is presented in a neutral, not positive, light–bullying, and much more.)

  3. Mike
    May 20, 2013

    A district must have a standard. It’s either we have a standard, or open the gates wide open to anything and everything. Clearly the later is not appropriate in a school district. So, the disagreement here, is strictly over the subjective definition of the standard.

    This is not a censorship issue. I just checked, and this book is still available from Amazon and even the Glen Ellyn Public Library for anyone to read.

    • Gerry
      May 22, 2013

      I’d say this book is just as appropriate for a school/district, if not more so. This book had been available in the school already and was optional reading. By acceding to the whims of only two people and not the recommendations of the teachers and admins, this IS a type of censorship. You’re supposed to teach the students how to read, not WHAT to read.

  4. Kristin
    May 20, 2013

    The book being available elsewhere does not mean it isn’t being censored in the school. No one has claimed that the book was banned in the library or withdrawn from internet vendors. But the material is being suppressed in the junior high, which means it is being censored in the junior high. The argument is that this is a place where it should be available–or at least not banned from being made available by teachers who choose to add it as an optional reading choice. The argument that being able to get it elsewhere means it hasn’t been censored would mean that Rushdie’s books haven’t been censored by India because you could fly to another country and buy them.

    And yes, standards do have to exist. I’m not arguing that teachers throw the Marquis de Sade on their reading lists. But banning is beyond deciding a book isn’t educational and doesn’t fit for this age group. Still, I agree that all of this is subjective; the line is drawn based on where the teachers and community believes it should be drawn. I am voicing my opinion as part of that community.

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