Censorship in US Educational Systems


In the past day with increasing frequency the amount of banned books from US Educational Systems has risen to the extent where public school organize anual "Banned Book Weeks" to raise awarness. (PFAW) From topics spanning sex, drugs, mental illness and profanity Young Adult books are being removed from curriculum all over the country. Below are a few examples of some books that have been censored. 


Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was banned in Wallingford, Conneticut for reasons including innapororiate language, sexual conduct, and drug use. A complaint from a parent led to the school district's superintendednt removing it from the requiered reading list for high school freshmen. The parent complained of the books exporsure to "homosexuality, sex, masturbation, and a glorification of alcohol and drug use"(Record-Journal). Apparently the parent does not believe in censorship but believes in "apropriatness"

Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book highly celebrated in the YA field is the coming of age story of a young teenage boy struggling to find his place in high school. The book is praised for its realness approaching topics that affect highschoolers across the globe. 

Looking For Alaska

One of author, John Green's best selling novels, Looking for Alaska, was named the most complained book about in 2015 by the American Library Association. The book claimed the number one spot on a list of contreversial spots, ahead of EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey and The Bible.

In a Kentucky school district, its "offensive language" and "sexually explicit descriptions" was the reasoning to keep the book off its curriculum and library. 

The plot line of the book is the following: "The story of a teenager, Miles Halter, as he enrolls at a boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life, and was inspired by Green's experiences as a high school student."


Go Ask Alice the anoynmous book revolving around a young girl who develops a drug habit at the age of 15 and her journey of self discover was also banned for extreme profanity and drug use. To date Go Ask Alice is one of the most censored books across the world, especially in the US. 

It becomes obvious that there seems to be a reccuring theme of reasoning behind all of these complaints and removals of young adult books. Whether it be over bearing parents, societal pressures, or plain close mindness there are distinct choices being made for each book.

In the country of the apprarent "free" where our constitutional rights support our freedom of speech  and press it surprises me to see the censorship of such books that are detrimental to teenagers going through such an important part of their life. Most of these books are tied together through the commonality that they portray teenagers going through a rough but growing time that includes serios life topics that in my opinion should not be shaded away from being taught at schools but embraced. These specific books, and most books on "banned lists", showcase the life of a teenger through their own perspective which to adults can be startling a first but relatable to young adult populations.

Our reasoning behind the investigation of our archive is what bounary must a book to make a parent or local school board uncomfortable to remove the learning opporuntiy fora student ? Showcased by the books above it seems to be any topic where a parent may feel uncomfortable having a conversation with their child. What they do not notice is that it is important to have these serious talks about sex, drugs, mental health and profanity instead of removing from their lives all together which only leads to their own curiosity taking over. 

Regarding the students constitutional rights in these public schools the topic has been gravely debated. For example, the board of education of Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 attempted to ban Go Ask Alice for its "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain 'filthy" (CaseLaw) nature. Thankfully, the defendent claimed it infringed on the students First Amendmant rights which the judge agreed due to the ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist. where it was ruled "Students do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.". A school should be a safe place where students should be allowed to study a variety of topics both good and bad. Case in point, its is legally not right to restrict the educational opportunities of students based solely on the personal preferences of a few individuals. Furthermore supported by the decision that resulted from the Board of Education v. Pico which concluded that "Local school boards may not remove books from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to 'prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion,' with the notation of West Virgina Board of Education v. Barnette. 

Although there is legal prosecution that supports the limitation of power of school boards removal of sensitive books, all these books above have managed to be taken away from students who could have possibly benefitted from them. The fact that these books depict kids their own age going through life changing experiences is more than enough justification to allow them to read them. I guess in this world and age all it takes is one over bearing parent that bubble wraps their child from the supposed "horrors" of the world to spread censorship in the US Educational System. 

Censorship in US Educational Systems