Sunday, May 4, 2014

To Ban or Not to Ban

One of my former English teachers posted the above link regarding a student in Idaho who organized the distribution of a book that parents had succeeded in getting the school to ban. Before I go on I will admit that I have not read this book and I really have no idea what the book is about. All I know is what the article states regarding the situation. However I had some thoughts that I wanted to share.

First of all this story seems to be one that repeats itself across generations. Whenever a new book is written directed towards youth the Christian community tends to decide that something is wrong with and organize a protest against it. Harry Potter was too magical, Twilight had vampires, and now this book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, apparently has too much sexual information in it. This type of attitude doesn't just stick to literature. Christian parents are known for protesting against sexual education classes, evolution in science classes, and several other things throughout the school system.

To be clear, I do believe that protesting has it's place and there are things that it might be better to shelter our kids from, however I would like to present an alternate idea. In this particular incident these Christian parents gathered together and protested enough to get the school to ban this book from their curriculum. Most, if not all, of the parents probably have not read this book themselves. They probably just heard from another parent, who probably hadn't read the book, about what was in it. So instead of taking the time to find out what their kids were interested in and jumping in on a perfect teaching moment, they went past their kids and got the school to ban it.

In my opinion this type of attitude is not helping raise our kids with moral judgement. While we may be able to successfully shelter our teens up until the day they move out, sooner or later they will move outside of that shelter. Sooner or later they will be confronted with those very issues. In this case, there were apparently sexual issues brought up in this book. These issues are not going to go away because you get the book banned. Our kids need us as parents to be willing to approach these difficult issues with them and discuss them.

My suggestion to the parents in Idaho: Read the book! Then discuss it with your child. If you disagree with something discuss why you disagree, ask your child their opinion, get the issue out in the open. This will provide them with an opportunity to learn how to process information with a moral compass rather then leave them defenseless when you are not around.

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