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A Mississippi school district is pulling To Kill A Mockingbird from its 8th-grade curriculum after receiving complaints about the “wording” of the novel.
According to the Sun Herald, the Biloxi School District is replacing the novel in its curriculum. While the book will no longer be part of the grade’s English language arts lessons, it is still in the district’s libraries.
“There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books,” Kenny Holloway, vice president of the Biloxi School Board, told the publication.
In further detail, a “concerned reader” told the publication that the book’s use of the “N-word” led to complaints and that this change was made midway through the lesson plan. According to the district’s middle school website, the “the Golden rule” and “taking a stand” are the current themes for language arts classes, and students were anticipated to learn that compassion and empathy do not depend on race or education.
To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, is a celebrated novel taught throughout middle schools in the U.S. for its lessons on prejudice and injustice. Across the internet, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Piers Morgan, and critics in between slammed the district’s decision, particularly in the context of re-emboldened bigotry and racism in the U.S. sparked by white supremacy and police brutality.
This is a terrible decision. It's one of our few shared stories -- in a nation with far too few shared stories right now. https://t.co/Um7QBiSkif— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) October 14, 2017
The morons who took this absurd decision make ME feel uncomfortable. https://t.co/foWYqkL6nX— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 14, 2017
Mississippi Unlearning https://t.co/eXwA0HG6Wk— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 14, 2017
Mississippi bans To Kill a Mockingbird, as it causes "discomfort"--While MS officials remain silent on white supremacists' lethal terrorism. https://t.co/kvmhQqwyPr— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) October 14, 2017
We live in country where "To Kill A Mockingbird" makes some people uncomfortable but a man in the White House who is unable to condemn Nazis & their propaganda is just fine. https://t.co/PNKp1HC3JX— Simar (@sahluwal) October 14, 2017
The novel is one of the most challenged and banned classic literature novels of all time, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, via PBS. In 2012, a high school student in Colleyville, Texas was given an alternate book assignment when the parents took issue with the novel’s themes of race and politics.
Dramatic Publishing Vice President Chris Sergel has even said the publisher is often asked to change or remove words, but the requests are always denied.
“There are many resources and materials that are available to teach state academic standards to our students. These resources may change periodically,” Biloxi Superintendent Arthur McMillan said in a statement. “We always strive to do what is best for our students and staff to continue to perform at the highest level.”
H/T Associated Press
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.