Stop & Chat is a weekly discussion post here a Read. Sleep. Repeat. where we talk about what ever tickles my fancy!
So, originally today’s Stop & Chat was suppose to be about a lovely topic Chrys of Oh Chrys! suggested but after watching Epic Reads Tea Time on Wednesday I was just itching to talk to you about banned books. It was via this stream of tea time that I learned that Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell has been banned within the Anoka-Hennepin school district. That’s right folks! In the year of 2013, when Miley Cyrus can have sexual relations with a wrecking ball on TV, our President is black, and the ability to “plug” a car into an electrical socket are every day occurrences, we are somehow STILL banning books! Books! Something that is meant to be a source of knowledge, a place to escape, and an opportunity to dream outside your reality. What kind of parent would want to take those kinds of experiences away from their children? What kind of parent would teach their children that if something offends one, then it is that ones job and responsibility to make sure no one else is offended?
Now, in case you didn’t know Eleanor & Park was the first contemporary book I’ve read and fell in love with, it’s the first book to literally make me cry and even though I’m 24 it moved me in ways that I didn’t think was possible for a book. This is probably why I’m most pissed about such a beautiful book being banned. This story can do nothing but give some child (and I use that term loosely) the HOPE that the shit they are going through today, doesn’t have to be the same shit they go through tomorrow.
When I was in the 6th grade (2000-2001), I discovered a little book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in my school library. I took said book home and as I was lounging on the porch of our two family house my granny came out and asked why I wasn’t running around with the other kids. I simply held up my book, and she let me be. A few weeks later while in the car with my granny and mama, I was about half way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and I overheard my granny telling my mama about how some “Harry something, books is bein banned in the schools“. Now back when I was a kid the rule was children should rarely be seen and never heard, but I couldn’t help myself. I screamed no so loud my mama slammed on the breaks at a green light. I started going on and on about how they can’t ban Harry, about how much I loved the books. I may have even cried, but that bits a tad blurry. And do you know what my granny said to me? “When I was a kid half of us could barely read. I won’t let them take that from you!” and she bought me the first 3 books (that was all that was out at the time) in the series.
To this day, I think back to that moment, and each time I do I love my granny just a bit more. It wasn’t till a year or so later that she really sat me down and explained that when she was growing up, in the 1950’s/60’s in the very racist state of Alabama, that reading as a “colored” wasn’t just looked down upon, but it could very well get your teeth knocked out your mouth. She told me about how hard others had worked and fought for me to have the right and freedom to read, and how I should cherish that right and treat it with respect. She told me don’t let anyone take that right away from me. And dagnabit, I cry every time I think of that conversation. So I’m sure you can understand why the thought of ANYONE having their right to read what they want, taken away from them pisses me off so much.
As a parent, I understand when things get offensive, but I also know that pushing that offense under the rug won’t make it so my child won’t see it. And even though my kid is 5 and totally “innocent” I know that when those “offenses” rear their ugly heads, the only way to deal with it is to take it and break down my view to MY kid. For TWO people in the entire flipping school district to decide that an entire district worth of children can’t experience the uplifting and amazing story of Eleanor & Park it does more than make me feel angry. It literally hurts. They quoted their anti-bully campaign but do they not see their hypocrisy? They banned David Levithan’s book Boy meets Boy because:
- Violates District #11’s Bullying Prohibition Policy with its inclusion and repetition of negative words such as gay boy, faggot, queer, bitch etc.
- Violates District #11’s Language of Harassment policy with the use of sexual terms and phrases referring to fake boobs, tonsil hockey, and debauchery (defined as “indulgence in sensual pleasures”). At the end of the novel after Paul and Noah are kissing and fondling each other, Noah states, “I guess the candles work.” Paul replies, “ ‘Shh,’ I say again, my voice full of glimmer.” Noah concludes, “‘Debauchery’…One of my dictionary words.” (Page 179)
- Violates District #11’s Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy that prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation in District adopted curriculum.
- Sexualizes same-sex friendships and normalizes same-sex hand holding, kissing, touching and fondling with detailed descriptions. (Pages 18, 26, 50, 52, 61, 63, 65, 69, 78, 88, 100, 104, 110, 118, 120, 121, 156,171, 173, 174, 178). On page 178 Paul says, “Noah reaches over to touch my cheek. His thumb moves over my lips and down the side of my neck. He leans me back against the wall and kisses me. I kiss him back hard. We breathe each other in….we grasp at each other and explore each other and mark the time in movements and whispers.”
- Confuses children about their sexuality by offering a range of sexual “identities” to experiment with including “bisexual…ambisexual…duosexual” (Pages 85, 90). Page 143 even suggests that the cross-dressing Infinite Darlene football player (whose real name is Daryl) might be a lesbian.
- Depicts the Boy Scouts as a negative organization because of their non-homosexual policy. Because of this policy, Paul tells how they decided that the Boy Scouts had no place in their town and a new group was formed called the Joy Scouts—where boys take guitar lessons from a retired monk. (Page 66)
- Condones cheating and deceiving teachers. (Pages 34, 56). On page 34, Paul and Tony, who have similar handwriting, do each other’s homework without their teachers awareness stating; “We try to do this as often as possible.” On page 56 one student suggests sneaking in a keg at a school party.
- Condones cheating and deceiving parents. (Pages 36, 153). On page 36 Tony tells his parents that he is going on a church retreat and hops a train to the city instead. Tony, who feels he is gay, pretends to leave his house with Joni so his parents won’t question him. Page 153 tells of all the years they pretend to go to “bible study groups” and “wash the scent of a basement rave out of Tony’s clothes, or let Tony onto our computers to go places his parents wouldn’t let him go.”
- Introduces children to a mystical meditation practice to induce altered states of consciousness called “Going Elsewhere.” (Page 113)
- Acquaints students with R-rated movies, The Advocate, and P-FLAG (pages 73, 76, 96, 115). Note: The Breakfast Club is rated R for bad language. American Pie is unrated which (according to Blockbuster) makes it worse than an R due to nudity, sexual content and language. The Advocate is a mainstream homosexual magazine that contains pornography and links to pornographic sites. P-FLAG is a radical gay activist organization whose recommended books for children include pornographic content and encouragements to experiment sexually.
- Makes a mockery of prayer and the Bible. (Pages 6, 7, 17, 48, 95, 149) Page 6 and 7 state, “You’ve run out of chapter and verse for your study group? ‘O Lord, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt, at least let me wear a Walkman…The Lord is my DJ…I shall not want.” On page 17 Paul says, “Yes, I pray to my Big Lesbian God Who Doesn’t Really Exist.”
- Depicts parents who are opposed to homosexual behavior as religious fanatics and undermines Christian values and teachings about homosexuality
And yes, those are the EXACT “offenses” this book has committed that will most definitely “destroy the youth of tomorrow”! There are so many things wrong with this that I honestly want to set all of the internet on fire. And please feel free to visit their website to see what other books they have deemed “unacceptable”, at
I’ve thumbed through many of their post and articles and the hate I feel is actually palpable. Anti-gay campaigns?! Banned books?! I hate to damn an entire state because of a few dumbasses, but why isn’t anyone in this god-forsaken district fighting back? Why is no one standing up for these LGBT children?!
So, in my effort to fight back, I’m supporting Banned Books Week by giving away a ebook copy of Eleanor & Park by the lovely Rainbow Rowell. And I can only hope it effects someone as deeply as it effected me.
*NOTE* this giveaway is open INT, as long as they can receive the ebook via Amazon, Barnes & Noble OR Kobo.