Books are a fabulous way to gain new perspective and open your mind to new ideas. However, sometimes they can be the source of controversy. This can often happen even when the authors don’t intend for their work to be divisive, and this appears to be the situation occurring in a school district in Oregon.
Image Via EdSurge
The annual Oregon Battle of the Books event has lost the Cascade School District and everyone is either for it or against it. The superintendent recently made the choice to withdraw from the competition due to the involvement of a book called George. The story by Alex Gino is about a transgender fourth grader and geared towards a young adult audience.
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However, Superintendent Darian Drill wants to make it clear that the topic of transgender identity isn’t the reason they withdrew from the running, a choice made by four administrators.
People want to make it about this transgender issue… We have a couple of transgender kids in our high school and our staff do a great job of handling that… We have to have those conversations as we move forward, and we’ll get better at it. We’re happy to have it. All I have is the four of those administrators that said, this is not appropriate for children of this age.
When a petition was first created to ban the book, it got 900 signatures within a week. Following that a petition to stop the banning gained 1,400 signatures in much less time. According to a parent in the district, the topic wasn’t transgender that they didn’t want their students exposed to, it was additional vocabulary and scenarios.
Image Via Oregon Battle of the Books
Pete Cakebread explained
We don’t feel that it’s an age appropriate book for a variety of reasons and more so than the transgender aspect, when they talk about dirty magazines and use the word porn… For incoming third graders that could be as young as seven-years-old, that’s really the inappropriate aspect of that book. A lot of them will be curious and then go try to look that word up and we all know what can happen on the internet when you type in that.
Those who work in the district hope to keep certain works within the appropriate grade. The books aren’t being banned for good, it’s simply for the event. I could understand the split sides, but what do you think?