For now, mother Angela Calo is focusing on AMERICA by E.R. Frank. She says her daughter, a seventh grade student at Brown Middle School, is too immature to deal with the "sexual content and profanity," used to describe the tortured life of a fictional abuse victim named America.
Like most censors, Calo isn't content to deny her daughter access to the book. She wants it removed from the entire school district. "Yes," Calo said in a local newspaper report, "it was not suitable for any child." She suggested only college level students be allowed access to the book.
Teacher Cathy Adler told her class of gifted students the content was "raw" -- at times painful to read. But national statistics suggest 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 -- before they would be allowed to read a story reflective of their life experiences, by Calo's proposed standard. Kids not victimized sit next to kids who are.
We object to the censorship of E.R. Frank's exceptional novel, and offer both teacher and author our support. But AMERICA is not the only book on Calo's radar. She's also "concerned" about SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, and STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES, both approved for the 2007/2008 district reading list.
Many Ohio readers, including education professionals and Adler's students have visited this website to express their defense of free speech and to warn that SARAH BYRNES may be next.
We applaud those people, and teacher Cathy Adler. And we promise, if Calo turns her focus to the books of Chris Crutcher, he'll be ready and able to meet her challenge. You will not be alone in your battle to protect your First Amendment rights.