Park County School District #6 Board to Hear Appeal to Ban Book in Cody High School Library
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 6, 2022
Some Cody residents are still battling books, as the decision to remove The Color Purple from the Cody High School Library goes directly to the Park County School District #6 Board of Trustees.
Once again, Park County School District #6 will discuss the merits of Alice Walker’s 1982 book The Color Purple. After a June hearing of the R.E.C. committee voted to keep the book in the Cody High School Library, the decision has been appealed to the Park County School District #6 Board of Trustees.
The district’s Educational Resource Complaint Committee heard the cases to remove or retain the books The Color Purple and How to Be an Antiracist on June 2. Based on the arguments presented, the committee – a mix of schoolteachers, administration, and parents – unanimously voted to keep both books available.
Carol Armstrong, who submitted the initial complaint, says The Color Purple is inappropriate for high school students due to its “pornographic content” and “vulgar language.” She called it a “vulgar, adult book” and considered it pornographic. These concepts, she says, should not be introduced to the impressionable minds of “children.”
The epistolary novel, The Color Purple, published in 1982 by Alice Walker, follows the story of Celie, a young, poor, and uneducated 14-year-old African American girl living in the Southern United States in the 1900s. In the book, her father, Alphonso, beats and sexually abuses her. The rest of the novel traces the gradual triumph of Celie as she comes to resist cruelty and oppression.
Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States.
Advocates for banning or “restricting” books fear that children will be swayed by their contents, which they consider potentially dangerous. They fear these publications will present ideas, raise questions, and incite critical inquiry among children that parents, political groups, or religious organizations are not ready to address or find inappropriate.
The U.S. Supreme Court has set a precedent for banning books in educational settings. In 1982, the case Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico (1982) ruled 5-4 that public schools can bar books that are “pervasively vulgar” or not right for the curriculum. However, districts cannot remove books “simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.”
During the June 2 meeting for The Color Purple, a committee member mentioned that the First Amendment also protects someone’s exposure to ideas, and ignoring the book’s educational value is a “slippery, dangerous” slope when it comes to student rights. This comment drew scattered applause – the only disruption during the half-hour hearing.
The Park County School District #6 Board of Trustees voted to keep Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale in the Cody High School Library on June 21. Similarly, that decision came after a previous decision of the R.E.C. Committee was appealed.