Book Banning

Recently, a small group of concerned parents met with state legislators about the books available in public schools. They said schools had treated them shabbily when they presented their concerns, and they also pointed out books that they found objectionable. I am sorry and surprised that school officials would have acted as they did. My experience with school officials has shown them to be respectful and attentive to parents’ concerns. What these parents experienced is the exception and not the rule.

The parents suggested several books that they did not want their children to read and that were available in public schools. I do not understand why this problem was brought to the state legislature. If a parent objects to a book that is required reading for a class, the teacher merely finds a substitute achieving the same academic purpose, and that has the parent’s approval. If the parent objects to a non-required reading in the school library, the parent should contact the school librarian, who will not allow that student access to the book. The student will not read the book in the library or check it out. These solutions are simple and do not require politicians.

One might notice that these simple solutions involve one parent and the parent’s student, revealing a problem in understanding the extent of parental rights. A parent should most certainly have the right to make a decision concerning the readings they want their student to experience. However, their parental rights and protests should extend to their children – not to other parents’ children. Looking at the list of books the protesters want banned reveals books that are often taught in college preparatory classes and/or Advanced Placement classes. Parents who want their students prepared for college would have serious concerns if these books were banned. Other parents might want their children to understand issues of sexual identity.

Parents indeed have parental rights, but it is also true that all parents have rights that should not be dismissed. The legislature certainly should not be making decisions for all parents. If the protesting parents desired to make decisions for all parents, it is understandable and commendable that school officials did not allow this to happen.

– Anne Michael