Union schools keeps book on shelves
Author Ellen Hopkins’ school visit canceled
In a narrow 3-1 vote, the Union school board voted to retain Buster’s Sugartime by Marc Brown. Parents Don and Mary Danz asked the school board to remove the children’s book after their kindergarten son brought it home after checking it out of the school library. Their contention was that the book promotes behavior that is contrary to Oklahoma law because it refers to Buster’s friend Lily as having two moms
Anyone who is familiar with children’s literature will remember Marc Brown’s books featuring Arthur, the aardvark, and his best friend, Buster, a rabbit. Who would suspect that such a cute and cuddly group could incite the controversy of an attempted book banning?
After the initial complaint was lodged, the issue was taken to a district review committee, which is a standard practice. The committee voted by a vote of 6-1 to retain the book. Not satisfied with this response, the parents appealed to the school board. The school board voted on January 10th in a 3-1 decision to retain Buster’s Sugartime.
Parents Don and Mary Danz asked the school board to remove the children’s book on the grounds that the book promoted behavior that was contrary to Oklahoma law because it refers to Buster’s friend Lily as having two moms, which of course, is not legal in Oklahoma.
According to the Tulsa World, “’For kindergarten through fifth grade, material that advocates — that’s the author’s stated goal — positions, behavior, relationships which are objectively contrary to well-established Oklahoma law’ are inappropriate, Danz said.
‘If a subject matter is inappropriate for a grade level, passing or surpassing all the other criteria (that would make it appropriate) does not save it,’ Danz said.
‘The tough decision is to pull this book. Don’t make this book part of the curriculum; don’t make same-sex unions part of the curriculum.’”
In conservative Oklahoma, Union Superintendent Cathy Burden argued bravely in favor of keeping the book on library shelves. Noting that the book fulfilled the requirements of the district selection policy, she also stated that, “If legality in Oklahoma was an issue we were to use in criteria, then we would have to get rid of a lot of books in our library referencing things like pirates and robbers and cattle rustlers and many other topics that are certainly in popular fiction not only for children but for adults (Tulsa World).”
Challenges like this remind us that even in the year 2010, there are those who would try to limit our freedom to read as we choose. The parents of this kindergarten child do have the right to decide what their own child may read. They do not have the right to dictate what others may allow their children to read.