The Process Behind Banning Books

All challenges that came Northgate’s way were defeated

The Process Behind Banning Books

Kate Wisenbaker, Co- Associate editor

Why are books banned? Is it for use of inappropriate language or maybe for inappropriate sexual scenes? Or maybe the book in question is not appropriate for a high school reading level. Over the years several books have been banned across America. Some books are banned for logical reasons, but other reasons seem foolish. Northgate High School is no exception to having guidelines about what students can and cannot read.

Schools across the nation ban different books for different reasons. Butler University says, “The most common reasons for banning books are: racial issues, encouragement of “unpleasant” activity, blasphemous dialogue, sexual situations or dialogue, violence or negativity, presence of witchcraft, unpopular beliefs, political bias, and age inappropriate material.” Schools have banned the following books such as: the Harry Potter Series (books one through eight), Looking for Alaska, The Outsiders, and several others for the previously mentioned reasons. Books that many people consider classics, or even powerful books of generations, are banned across the nation.
Northgate High School does not house any banned books in their library or school premises. Northgate does ,however, have two officially challenged books, Walking Across Egypt and Death of a Salesman. The school chooses to not buy and distribute books that would, or possibly could, be banned or challenged. Both books were classroom sets, and parents felt they were inappropriate for a classroom setting. The books are still currently class sets and can still be checked out in the library today. In both cases, an official complaint was made, and both books had to go through the process of banning a book from the school. In both cases, the complaints were proven unjustifiable, because the information was taken out of context.

The process for banning a book is a thorough and detailed one indeed. It all begins with a reconsideration form where parents, or whoever is trying to ban the book, talk about the “questionable material”. One statement on the form to ban a book reads as following, “ You need to have read the book, and then discuss why it should be taken off the shelf.” Parents also need to find an appropriate replacement for the book in question. The last step involves a  Media Committee, where teachers, a media specialist, administrators, a student, and parents come together to determine the fate of the case. All the members of the committee read the book and then come together to discuss if the book should be considered inappropriate or appropriate. “Parents who have concerns are invited to voice their concerns, then a decision is made,” says Northgate Media specialist Sandy Bowie. In the cases of both Walking Across Egypt and Death of a Salesman the official process occurred, and both were determined appropriate for Northgate High School.

Northgate, thankfully, is an outlier among a sea of schools with rules on banned books. We are free to choose what we read, even when some people disagree. Books that have been taken off the shelves around the country are open to the students of Northgate High School.

Attribution: Thank you to Mrs. Bowie, Mrs.McDevitt, and Rachel Ashton for their words of wisdom and help with this article.

Butler University: “Banned Books: Reasons for Banning”