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October 30, 2012 > Educating to end censorship

Educating to end censorship

Submitted By National Coalition Against Censorship, Photo by courtesy of Rev. Jeremy Nickel

Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation and the Kids' Right to Read Project (KRRP) are hosting a reading of two books banned by the Fremont School Board. The eight part series will be led by Washington High School English teacher Teri Hu whose attempts to include the modern literary classics in the Senior A.P. curriculum have been censored. The class will meet monthly, Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The first meeting was held October 24; the next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, November 14. Meetings will continue on the second Wednesday of every month, concluding in May.

Despite statements in support of the books by Mission Peak UU, KRRP and others, the Fremont School Board moved once again in 2012 to censor the Advanced Placement English curriculum at Washington High School. The works in question, Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina and Tony Kushner's Angels in America, are highly acclaimed works by lauded and respected authors. Both works are taught frequently in college preparatory courses-Angels in America has appeared on the national AP exam in the past.

"When I read about this issue last summer, I was shocked that this could be happening in Fremont. I have since learned that Fremont's School Board is the only school in the entire United States to have banned Angels in America. Bastard Out of Carolina has only been banned one other time. As a community that cherishes the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and the inherent worth and dignity of all people, I knew our congregation had to find a way to support teacher Teri Hu, and work against this terrible and antiquated decision," said Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel of Mission Peak UU Congregation.

The class seeks to educate the community about the true value of these two transformative twentieth century works whose value goes beyond their use in an exam; these are literary texts that inform readers about the human experience and broaden their horizons. Books will be available for purchase at the class and available to students of the Fremont school system for free.

"Often with book challenges, a book is quietly removed and the discussion ends there. In this case, Mission Peak UU has taken the initiative to open an educational, productive dialogue about what these texts have to offer," said Acacia O'Connor, Coordinator of Kids' Right to Read. "Banning these books from being used in the classroom denies students the right to explore these important texts in a safe and supportive educational environment."

"I truly believe that once Fremont residents have a chance to read these books and engage with them in a thought-provoking, structured setting, they will immediately understand the power and educational value of these books," said Teri Hu. "And my hope is that by introducing these books to the larger community we can make sure the Board understands that Fremont parents want their kids to read these books, and that the classroom is exactly the kind of place where they should be encountering the complicated ideas and emotions they generate."

See for yourself on Wednesday, November 14!

Banned Books series
Wednesday, Nov 14
7 p.m.
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
2950 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 936-1632

Second Wednesday: November through May

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