ACCOMAC, Va. — Two classic American novels have been temporarily pulled from book shelves in a Virginia school district.
Accomack County Public Schools Superintendent Warren Holland confirmed a parent filed a complaint about “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
The parent voiced concerns to the school board about racial slurs in both of the novels. “Right now, we are a nation divided as it is,” the mother is heard saying in an audio recording of a Nov. 15 meeting. She said her biracial son, a high school student, struggled getting through a page that was riddled with a racial slur.
“So what are we teaching our children? We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by any means,” the parent said.
Victoria Coombs, a mother of two, said she agrees books with offensive racial slurs should not be read in schools. “It’s not right to put that in a book, let alone read that to a child,” Coombs said.
But other Accomack County residents said that banning a classic for offensive language can be a slippery slope. “I don’t want to see it happen because if you start with one racial word in a book and have to go on and on and on and pretty soon you’ll be burning books left and right,” R. Kellam said.
“Everybody’s read it … It didn’t change a difference in my views at all,” Catherine Glaser said. “I’d like my son to read those books … My daughter’s mixed, and I don’t have a problem with it; I love those books.”
Glaser’s kids may still get a chance to read the novels in Accomack County.
The complaint filed was made as “a request for reconsideration of learning resources.” Per the school’s policy, the request will now go before a committee made up of a principal, librarian, teacher and parent. The committee will then make a recommendation to the superintendent.
Holland said that there is no set date as to when the recommendation will be made. The decision can be appealed.