Months after causing a national uproar with its first book ban, the Wentzville School Board voted Thursday to yank another acclaimed book from school libraries.
The board agreed with a review committee’s recommendation to pull the comic memoir “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, citing graphic illustrations of sexual activity. The vote was 6-1.
“I stand by my initial decision to purchase this title. … However, based on my professional opinion and 18 years as a teacher in the WSD, I would have decided to remove this book from our collection had I read it myself,” a committee member identified as the Liberty High School librarian commented in the recommendation. “I do not believe the pictures of sex are appropriate for our students.”
“Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” is the 2006 memoir of Bechdel’s relationship with her father, who she learned was gay after coming out herself. The book was adapted to a Tony Award-winning musical and frequently lands on banned book lists.
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The Library Journal recommends “Fun Home” for older teens, and the American Library Association calls it an “outstanding book for the college bound,” the librarian said.
Washington University said last month that it would honor Bechdel with its 2022 International Humanities Prizewhich will be presented in November along with $25,000.
“Alison Bechdel is one of the preeminent cartoonists of the 21st century,” said professor Rebecca Wanzo, in a statement announcing the prize. “Her work invites conversations about sexuality, trauma, medium and genre, women in the academy, place and childhood.”
About “Fun Home,” Wanzo said “its instant status as a classic speaks to the number of fields it touches — art, queer studies, literary studies, theater and, of course, comics studies.”
The Wentzville School Board also agreed with the review committee’s recommendations to keep three other challenged books on library shelves — “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “Heavy” by Kiese Laymon and “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison.
All of the books had been challenged by parent Amber Crawford for examples of sexual content.
“These are our children, not yours,” Crawford told the board during public comment at Thursday’s meeting. “Get the trash out of our schools.”
In January, the School Board banned Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” from school librariesattracting national media attention and a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two students.
The board reversed its decision a month laterreturning the book to high school shelves.
Two of the board members who voted to ban the book, Sandy Garber and Dale Schaper, were defeated in the April election.
Earlier this month, Wentzville lost its effort to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit, which also involves the district’s policy of removing books when they are challenged.
This year has seen the most book challenges in school districts across the US, according to the American Library Association, which has tracked the issue for decades.
Nearly 1,600 books have been pulled from school libraries or classrooms this school year, according to the nonprofit PEN America, compared to about 300 challenges or bans in previous years. Most of the targeted books feature LGBTQ or Black characters or themes.
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