By Sarah Jones
A Delaware school district recently voted to remove a book from a high school’s approved reading list over complaints about profanity. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth had been recommended reading for rising freshmen in Cape Henlopen.
NBC’s local affiliate reports that parents objected to the book’s use of strong language, and in a 6-1 vote, the school board agreed.
“We don’t allow profanity in our schools. It is against our code of conduct and there is discipline for those actions,” said Sargeant Spencer Brittingham, the board’s president. “I thought it would be appropriate to not have it in our books as well.”
But the school board may be concerned about more than strong language. The book also has LGBT themes and documents the coming-of-age of a teenage girl sent to a religious camp for “reparative therapy” after she tells her conservative relatives she is gay. In 2013, it was nominated for the Blue Hen Book Award, which qualified it for inclusion on the school district’s reading list.
And the board’s vote to remove the book might not even be legal. The Board of Education’s vice president, Dr. Roni Posner, told NBC, “It was an illegal process to begin with. We should never have been taking that vote in the first place.” According to Posner, policy gives a school district committee 20 school days to make a decision about a book; Cape Henlopen’s board rushed the vote.
They admit it, too. “If we had waited and complied with the policy, then we would have had children reading the book prior to the board’s decision.” said Jennifer Burton, also a school board member.
The book’s removal also raises questions about the influence of religion on the school board’s decision. Although board members didn’t specifically cite a religious reason, it’s difficult to believe that religious views had no influence on their objections to a book strongly critical of a “therapy” championed by many in the Religious Right.