Pasco school committee votes to ban book after several parents question it

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PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – After appearing on The New York Times Best Seller list, a critically acclaimed book has joined another list in Pasco County: banned.

On Monday afternoon, a school committee comprised of parents, faculty and community members voted to ban “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” from Pasco Middle School in Dade City. This is the first time in recent memory a book has been banned within the Pasco County School District.

The committee also recommended the superintendent ban the book from all schools in Pasco County.

Several concerned parents brought the issue before school leadership, calling the book’s subject matter “pornographic” and “disgusting”. The recommendation of the committee will be sent to the Pasco County School District superintendent, who will decide whether or not to ban the book in all Pasco County public schools.

The concerned parents don’t think their children should read it because they said it contains too many references to sex, drugs and drinking.

The book was released in 1999 and made into a movie in 2012. It’s currently read by students at five schools in Pasco County.

A substitute advanced language arts teacher at Pasco Middle School asked her 22 students to read the book.

“It’s a common practice for the teachers to review anything that they assign to students before they assign it,” Pasco County Schools Spokesperson Linda Cobb said.

That didn’t happen in this case.

Two parents objected, triggering a review by a special committee. The committee meets Monday afternoon and will be made up of administrators, teachers, and parents.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky, deals with controversial subject matter, including rape and masturbation.

“At the end of the day, no reasonably prudent person would allow their children to read this type of material,” said parent Matthew Ramer, who has a 13-year-old daughter who attends Pasco Middle School.

Ramer tells News Channel 8 he will officially file a criminal police report regarding felony obscenity law violations after the book was assigned to his daughter.

But for Terri O’Brien, who works with sexually abused teens and adults every day, the content of the book is powerful and could help abuse victims deal with trauma.

“I just have some concerns when we start talking about banning books that have a sensitive nature to them, because there are a lot of really great, literary books out there that also have sensitive content,” O’Brien said.

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