I am arguing for the rights of all books in the public education system.
(Okay, maybe except for Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Twilight…like, look at this one paragraph. Look at it and cry. )
Aro started to laugh. “Ha, ha, ha,” he chuckled.
Annie agreed this writing was terrible. “I agree this writing is terrible,” she agreed.
Anyways, onto the rest of the post…
A little over a year ago, Highland Park ISD suspended seven books after “parents challenged their content because of sex scenes and references to rape, abuse and abortion. In emails and at meetings, parents said high school students should not be exposed to some of the hardships and controversies of adulthood. More than 100 people packed a school board meeting this month. Parents and grandparents brought books flagged with sticky notes. They read excerpts of sex scenes, references to homosexuality, a description of a girl’s abduction and a passage that criticized capitalism. They sent hundreds of emails to district officials” (The Dallas Morning News).
Ok. Let me introduce myself. I am Annie, and I am 19 years old. Last year for my 18th birthday, I wish someone had bestowed upon me the secrets of transforming into an adult. Or, since that obviously didn’t happen, can someone explain to me what makes the 17 years and 11 month old me a child and the 18 year old me an adult?
Nothing, I’d say. In the end, the legal age of an adult is just an arbitrarily chosen number.
The distinction between the legal definition of an adult and a child is all too clear. 17? Child. 18? Adult. Ok, that may be fine for legal purposes, but we absolutely cannot have that clear-cut division in reality. Adulthood is the accumulation of childhood experiences. No one can be thrust into adulthood and maturity, and especially not into the real world without any preparation. That’s what’s growing up is for.
Turn on the radio. It’s the same content: ISIL, Syrian unrest, Zika, homosexuality, abortions and the goddamn elections (or just politics in general). These are the problems of the world now. These will be our problems in a few years.
Of course reality is not a pretty picture. No one wants to be constantly surrounded by content such as rape, abuse and the hardships and controversies of adulthood. But if we are going to be the future, as grown-ups are so fond of reminding kids, then we cannot have everything sugarcoated for us. When we’re not exposed to these hardships, we end up becoming desensitized towards them.
Take the anti-feminists. To quote some of their arguments, “I make my own decisions without being pressured” and “I reject feminism because I am not a victim of society” (Take a look at it yourself here.) The main problem here is the egocentric view so prominent in our society nowadays. Sure, these girls may not be victims of rape, of abuse, of society, but that doesn’t mean no one else suffers. We’re not suffering from civil unrest, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it’s happening in many countries. I’m not suggesting that we should feel any less fortunate, but I am suggesting that this lack of exposure has numbed us into insouciance.
One of the books banned is Jeannette Walls “The Glass Castle.” Walls’ memoir (which I happened to read last year in school) is about growing up in poverty with a father who spent his money on alcohol and a mother who became homeless. In response to the district’s ban, Walls said, “My book has ugly elements to it, but what I worry is that in order to protect them, we may be taking away the tools they need to protect themselves later on.”
She notes that despite these ugly elements, the story is essentially about hope and resilience. “Sometimes you have to walk through the muck to get to the message,” she said.
Like sex scenes. These are probably the most controversial. I would just like to point out two things. 1. It’s not as if these occurrences are the central ideas of the story. (Unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. And that, is rightfully banned from schools. If not for the cringe-worthy sex scenes, the terrible writing LOL.) If we can’t see past that one paragraph and on to the true themes, then we need our priorities fixed. 2. Sex is a part of human nature, and once again, what makes a 18 year old more qualified to know more about it than a 17 year old? They’re more mature? Really? Besides, my school had “The Talk” back in fourth grade.
Education isn’t meant to be only about “All the Beautiful Times”; it’s meant to reflect reality and allow us to formulate our own well-rounded analysis and thoughts before we enter the adult world and begin inputting our advice as well.
This year, I’ll be able to vote. “Represent!” everyone told me.
My thirteen year old brother likes to joke about whether he can vote too.
“You’re too young, dear. Just wait until you’re an adult.”
But what if my knowledge of feminism, abortions, homosexuality and current events were about the same as my brother’s? Because, say, I never learned about it when I was thirteen, or when I was 18?
Am I qualified to judge homosexuals and their lives when I’ve never even heard their stories? Should I be able to vote on foreign policies regarding Syria or Yemen when the only thing Middle East-related I know is the name Gaddafi?
So if these parents really want their children to be the hope of the future, they might want to get them acquainted with the present.
Indeed, they have a right to prohibit their own kids from reading these books if they want to, even if we don’t agree, and the district rightfully respected their beliefs. (No one likes lawsuits.) I applaud these parents for their attempt to hide the harsh reality they live in from us kids. But in the end, you’re just harming both you and me.
Slapping a band-aid over these problems will only lead to greater infections.