- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - A Texas school district temporarily removed seven books from its approved book list for high school students after parents complained at a school board meeting about sex scenes and references to rape, abuse and abortion.

Highland Park Superintendent Dawson Orr said the books will be reviewed by committees of parents, teachers and students, a process that could take months.

“I made the decision - given the volume and the tenor and just the continual escalation of this issue - that we would pause, take the time to go ahead and create the reconsideration committees and do the work,” Orr told The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1r04fv4).

Teachers can choose from more than 200 books on the high school’s approved book list, each reviewed by a committee of teachers and parents. They sometimes send permission slips for books with mature content. Parents who object to a book can request another option for their children and formally ask to have it removed from the list.

One parent who raised objections, Tavia Hunt, said she doesn’t want her sophomore daughter or any students to feel uncomfortable in English class because of sex scenes, but said the books should be allowed in the library.

“This is not about banning books. No one is advocating that,” Hunt said. “We want the kids to have access to the books in the library. The problem is having obscene literature mandatory in the classroom and for discussion.”

One of the seven removed books is “The Glass Castle: A Memoir” by Jeannette Walls, about growing up in poverty with a father who spent his money on alcohol and a mother who became homeless.

Walls is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the district’s annual literary festival in February. She said she was heartbroken to learn her book was temporarily removed and that teenage readers have told her the book gave them courage to seek help.

“My book has ugly elements to it, but it’s about hope and resilience, and I don’t know why that wouldn’t be an important message,” she said. “Sometimes you have to walk through the muck to get to the message.”

But she said that she respects parents who are trying to protect their children.

The other books that were removed are: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein; “The Working Poor: Invisible in America” by David K. Shipler; “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse; “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie; “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green; and “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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