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Parents take son out of school over controversial book

READ MORE: Parents take son out of school over controversial book
WILMINGTON -- A book on a local ninth grade reading list has some parents so upset, they took their son out of school. The book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was an option for students to read in a freshman English class at Ashley High School. It was among the American library association's most challenged books of 2006. Now the book is being challenged here in New Hanover County. "this book is the most graphic book i've seen as a student book." As Chuck and Wendy Strafford read through The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky they couldn't believe it was being taught in their son's high school freshman English class. Chuck said, "There's millions and millions of good books out there, literature books, that are cleaner." The coming-of-age tale told from the perspective of a high school boy has sparked controversy nationwide. The book goes into detail about drugs, alcohol, gay sex, date rape and other topics the Straffords say would be better off in more advanced classes -- not for 15-year-old students like their son Elijah. "We're trying to keep him protected and sheltered in a healthy, clean environment and keeping him so he's innocent," Wendy said. Elijah's teacher, Christy McCoy, gave students the option of reading a different book, but the Strafford's say he was absent the day she made that announcement and was under the impression he had to read this book. New Hanover County Schools Spokesperson Valita Quattlebaum said, "The book will go through the school's media advisory committee and it will be reviewed there. Then the book will go on further to the district's media advisory committee to be reviewed at that time. And after that takes place a decision will be made whether or not the book will be allowed to remain on the school's shelves." The Straffords say they've had to sign permission slips so their kids could take sex-ed courses, and even watch certain movies. They say they would have liked to be notified in the same manner about this book. Wendy said, "We should, with literature, especially with that graphic of a nature, be told as parents, not let the kids have that choice since they are minors." The Straffords, along with another concerned parent, met with the principal and their son's English teacher and say they couldn't reach any sort of agreement. They took Elijah out of Ashley for the time being and say they hope this eventually blows over. They say they aren't trying to get the book banned; they simply would have liked to have gotten a heads up about its graphic nature.

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Best Book Ever

This book in no way is too provocative for FRESHMANS. Some subjects are subtly mentioned, like molestation or date rape, and some are more open in the book, like a teen going through a secret gay relationship, or Charlie blaming himself for his aunt's death. There are small scenes that do have sex or drug and alcohol use, but they are barely noticed. This us an amazing book! I actually read it a long, long time ago, when it came out! I was only about 12, but my parents read it before I did and deemed it age appropriate. It was a great book with a great film adaptation!

Great Book

I'm in junior high and I've read perks. It's a great book and while it has adult content, kids need to learn and this book uses its content to help teach right and wrong. The book is amazing and is really not that graphic. There are one or two parts that are pretty descriptive but it isn't 50 Shades of Grey by any means.

Really now?

No. That's just pathetic. I feel bad for this kid. I understand that his parents are trying to keep their kid from getting into "bad" things, but this is just over the top. I'm gonna laugh when he isn't anything like how his parents thought he was. People grow only by making mistakes and learning for themselves what is good or bad. These parents may try to shelter their son, but sooner or later, he's going to go against them and do his own thing. When he realizes how many opportunities he has missed out on by playing it safe, he's gonna regret a lot.

personally I have read Perks

personally I have read Perks of Being a Wallflower and am in high school, this book isn't bad. If anything it would be good for their son to read so that they can talk about it as a family after instead of him experiencing it on his own. Sheltering your son from books is taking it way to far. He won't know anything when he gets out in the real world and there is always the possibility that he already has encountered this stuff on his own with his friends anyway. so i really dont see the point in getting so worked up about it.


These parents are hilarious. They were talking about how they wanted to shelter their son to and I quote "Keep him innocent". What they don't realize if they are sheltering him from a BOOK then when this kid gets out to the real world he is as good as dead. You can't prevent him from things in a book. The stuff in the book really happens to people everyday, and the knowledge gained from reading about it is good.

i am a student in high school, and this is hypocritical.

you know, i just love how people SKIM through the books. it may have horrible things in it, but all of it adds up to a great story and is showing what really happens int he real world. its not as if charlies life in the book is going to change your sons life, so whats the point? my sister gave me the book to read, so it must be a book suitabe for me to read. and my sister looks out for me, watches what i do. she wouldnt give me a book that influences me to do LSD or anything of that sort. parents who don't want their children to read a book so harmless are hypocrites. they have drank sometime in their life, im sure. and not everyones parents get STONED, or anything of that sort, but if their best friend did it they would be there for them.


The Perks of Being a Wildflower is a book that every teen should read. For one thing it teaches teenagers who may have grown up in a harsh environment that their are people who have it worse and that there are other choices then commiting suicide. Obviously your child (Elijah) will not be able to discuss things with you because of your strong objections to modern living. It was noted above that we had no right to object to this because of Wendy's freedom of speech and you are absolutly right but aren't you going against the authors freedom of speech by saying it was banned. Banning books and Censorship takes away an authors freedom of speech. One more point to make is that your sheltered teen will now be able to take real life situations that he has not been educated on and glorify them making him more likly to do so. Yes there was a rape seen but it also showed girls how drinking can lead to bad consequences. Yes there was a gay guy but who are you to go against what god made them. He was being a good friend to him by supporting him. His genes not his personality made Patrick and Brad who they were. He also had a bad trip on LSD showing people that playing around wasnt a game. His sex scenes were not graphic or disturbing and he went about it in a skilled manner. This book should not be banned if their is an option not to read it. Anyways if you think your school distict is screwed up you should try out my school for a while. The reason i read this book was because my teacher told us we had to read a banned book and write a 12 to 15 page paper on it. The only choice we got was whether we wanted to read a book on racism, sex or drugs. But we dont have parents complaining here, and i consider that a good thing because i've never learned more about the dangers of censorship then when doing this project.

For the Straffords

I am writing this comment for the Straffords and their supporters, so listen up. I am not here to mock you or knock you. I am here to ask some hard questions that I want you all to pay close attention to and actually answer. I don’t want the same old rehearsed answers or knee-jerk reactions. I want you all to breathe and think hard before replying to me. I am also a parent of a child in this class, so I have the same concerns and motivations you do. I have also waited a long time to post anything because I really thought this would blow over quickly, but you folks haven’t allowed it to so I thought it was time I spoke up along with the others. I respect any parent that pays attention to what is going on in their child’s life, BUT it is clear to anyone that is involved in all this that no matter what anyone’s objection to this book is, is that there was an alternative. Even if you weren’t immediately aware of this, once you were made aware of this, why didn’t you just take that alternative? Again, I am not knocking you, but really, can’t you see that by your not just accepting that and letting Elijah read another book and be done with it you created a situation that the community has now been able to use against you and are indeed rallying against you? This never had to happen, but you elected to go to the TV news and then continue the fight by emailing and calling parents (like myself) and insisting we all fall in line with you and get this book banned. You called my home, unsolicited, and told me things about this book that, quite honestly, ARE NOT IN THE BOOK ( I know this now because I read the book after you called me) and told me I HAD to agree with you and keep my daughter away from it. Wendy, did you really think this would work? Why didn’t you just let Elijah read the other book? Why did you take him out of Ashley and make him the butt of jokes and ridicule when all you had to do was elect for the other book? I understand your love and concern for your child, as I have as well, but why make this a personal war against the teacher and anyone that approves of the book? Why can’t you let US decide that for ourselves? And why lie to us about the content in the book? Did you think we wouldn’t read it for ourselves? You have taken to calling us and literally LYING about what is in this book! And then you told me I HAD to agree with you. You seemed so angry and I couldn’t understand why when your child never had to even read the book. You bought the book and had it for 2 weeks before you had an objection to it. Elijah told my daughter he liked the book and then called her and others and told them to watch him on TV and then posted on MySpace about his time on TV. Was this your idea of protecting him? Have you checked his MySpace lately? It seems a lot worse to me, as a fellow parent, than anything I read in Perks of Being A Wallflower! Wendy, no one is shaming you for protecting your child and you should know that at this point, but you refuse to admit it publicly. What we all have a problem with is that you will not admit that you had options, but refused them, and then chose to point fingers at the teacher and the school. They did nothing wrong, that I, as a parent, can see. Even if there was a break down in communication between you and the teacher, once you knew Elijah didn’t have to read the book, why not end it there? Why did you call WWAY yourself and then when that didn’t work you resort to calling all of us (the parents) and then TELL us we had to agree with you and not let our kids read the book either? Why go through the process of having it removed from the entire school system’s library book shelves? And why tell the TV news that wasn’t your intent when that is exactly the process you told me you were going through? That isn’t honest or honorable. Again, why can’t you or your supporters ever address this key point? ELIJAH NEVER HAD TO READ THE BOOK. Why do you feel you can now decide for the rest of us parents what our kids can read? You don’t. Just address this one point and this whole thing will be over. Unless you have another agenda that we don’t know about? Honestly… if he didn’t have to read it, the teacher and the principal told you he could read something else… then WHY did you continue to make a fight where there wasn’t one? Seriously, answer that. We know YOU don’t like the book, but so what? HE DIDN’T HAVE TO READ IT. ADDRESS THAT PLEASE.

I am a student at Ashley. I

I am a student at Ashley. I am not enjoying this book. I wish my parent would speak up about this and fight it. The discussion of this book makes me very uncomfortable and embarrassed for my teacher. The way she acts about some of the topics... For my fellow classmates, be glad that your parents are speaking up for you. I realize the world is not a perfect place, but you would hope your school would be a place to learn, enlighten your mind, grow in maturity, not sit back and watch your teacher act silly about topics she gets kicks about talking about. I'm too young to wish my life away, but I will be glad to be out of Ms. M's class.

Something tells me you are a

Something tells me you are a conservative parent, faking to be a student.

wow you're smart

dear obnoxious parent, i am so happy that you have read the book the perks of being a wallflower. oh wait, i forgot you just skimmed through it to find any words you don't like. if you are so concerned about protecting your child then why are you posting his face all over the news. good job on being the parent of the month...not. i think you just felt like starting problems. well i hope you are having fun with it. Sincerely, Not su oh

Graphic nature?

Sounds like these fine parents lived in Saudi Arabia. This is act like an American! Treebeard I will rule all of Middle Earth...and the squirrels!!


i am a student at ashley high school and i know elijah very well and i think that the book is a awesome book and coy is a wounderful teacher and that all this should stop beacuse there is no point to this...yes there was a other books you could read....this book is being described as a horrible book and its nothing like that....this book doesn't even have pictures...i just wish this would end...its pointless!! this book is sooooo wounderful.....GET OVER IT!!!!!!! ITS STUPID!! ~a student in ms.Mc Coy's second block

y is this still going on

the book dosnt have any graphic pictures of ponography. it is a awsome book all the students that are reading it know that this is in our enviorment so y would parents want a great book like that abandoned from schools.

on the book

miss mccoy is a wonderful teacher. she is my english teacher and she gave us a option to read the perks of being a wallflower or another book if the parents did not want there child reading that book so y would u take your child out of school over a book that is really stupid. my parents said that is the world we live in. but mr and mrs strafford dont think that but oh well.

Poor Little Snowflake

It's so cute when Mommy and Daddy try to keep their precious and unique snowflake from being contaminated by the big bad world. I mean, he might learn how to deal with situations in real life, or how to evaluate them, or he could have to think about how to make moral judgments under pressure. We couldn't have that, now could we. Nope, let's have him read some book written in arcane English that he can't relate with.

well dang.....

I wonder what will happen all this is over...oh wait i dont have to wonder i know that those parents didnt even read the book they just took a highliter and flipped pages and went oh look it said "penis", "sex", etc. we better highlite it. geez and where on earth did they get the idea of beastuality or how the heck u spell it is in the book heck i bet all they saw was "dog" or "cat" on one page and then saw "sex" on the next one jesus christ ppl.


Just HOME school the over protected boy so you do not have to worry about what his delicate sensitivities are subjected too. You can "let" him read which ever books you choose then. The school system has enough problems without parents like this raising such a stink over nothing. I am sure the boy would enjoy reading "Sally, Dick & Jane" over and over. The real world is out there, you can not hide from it, nor hide him.

I couldn't agree more

I couldn't agree more


Thesem people dont even know what the book is about, all they did was pick out the bad stuff. Evry kid my age loves this book, GET OVER IT! its just a book!


Thesem people dont even know what the book is about, all they did was pick out the bad stuff. Evry kid my age loves this book, GET OVER IT! its just a book!

The world we live in...

As a personal friend of Chuck and Wendy, I had to add a note to the string of comments on this story. First, I'll just state what is fact: Chuck and Wendy are legally responsible for their children. This gives them the legal right to decide what goes into their minds and hearts. You can disagree all you want with their moral position, but unless you become the legal guardian of the child, you have no say, whatsoever. Second, If Chuck and Wendy feel that it is important to keep certain things out of their children's lives, be is music, literature, or corn flakes... they have every right to do so. Who are we to judge how they raise their children? Third, people can defend the book all they like, but there are without question topics that are written about that *some parents* will find objectionable for their ninth grade children to read. I believe that every parent has the right to determine what is objectionable for their children, including Chuck and Wendy. The school should respect this right. But...Lastly, I am simply *stunned* by the vitriol that has been directed at these two parents in the postings of this article. Initially I thought that it might be good for people to know what type of literature was being handed out in the school system, and that a news interview was a positive way to get that information out. However, after reading through the comments of this article, I see that I was wrong. These two friends of mine are being raked over the coals and made out to be fanatical, terrible parents, simply for exercising their first amendment right of free speech. They are being crucified for wanting to protect their children. Apparently I greatly underestimated the people of New Hanover County (or at least the readers of this web article). What might have been a forum to discuss both sides of a controversial issue has turned into an attack blog on a very kind, gentle, and loving family. I believe that if anyone personally knew this family, they would not write some of the things that have been written here. One last thought. I feel EXACTLY the same way about keeping my children pure and away from obscenity of this type. In our family we work very hard to keep music, web sites, and publications that we feel are objectionable out of the eyes and minds of our children. Some might think that we are sheltering our kids, and not letting them "explore the world". Nothing could be further from the truth. We have many discussions about life, and the world, including many of the things that are part of this book. We do so in a healthy, positive atmosphere, where *we* as the parents can pass on our morals and character to our children. That IS a parents role. It is the schools role to educate children, not shape them socially and morally. This, by the way, is exactly why none of my children have ever been, nor ever will be, in a public school. And just in case anyone were wondering, all four of my kids (from elementary school to high school)are well adjusted, exceptional students, accomplished in their respective areas of talent, sexually pure and drug free. They are all well on their way to becoming what I would consider model citizens, and significant contributors to our society. Sure they may be "different" because they have not been caught up in sex and drugs and drinking like some of the others. But I think that in this case, being a little different is going to be OK. And guess what. They do too. PC

Now come on

What about "there was another book" that could have been choosen don't you understand?? This is not an attack on the parents because they are parenting there own children. This is because they are trying to parent MY and YOUR children. If they didn't like the book, or apparently the other book, then take your kid out of school like you did. FINE. We wouldn't even know about it. BUT, go to the media, try and get the teacher in trouble, now you have crossed the line and are trying to push your way of living on my children. I won't stand for it! I will say again that this is a great book. My kids are also "accomplished in their respective areas of talent, sexually pure and drug free" believe it or not. I choose to raise mine the way I choose to, and you choose to raise yours the way you choose to. I will not interfer with you, so PLEASE, don't interfer with me.

Re: The world we live in

I totally agree! I feel the same with my children. I too, know Chuck and Wendy and they are very very nice people! I feel the response of the majority of people makes me seriously worry about the state of mind of the world and I feel it will only get worse. You stated my feelings exactly! Way to go!!!!

Who the...

heck r u? what we the students r arguing over is the fact that they r lying about everything and they are trying to get a totally great book banned this book is the exact kind of world all teenagers in the US are living in we dont care what they do with their kid after all its their kid and i dont care i just want them to confess and apologize to Ms.McCoy for being such jerks to her. All we'er doing is defending our teacher cause we feel like we can and u can't stop us and we r also defending the book but whatever. (just stay out of it Clay whatever your last name is)

But the point is...

Does no one else remember that there is an alternate assignment for the pure and innocent? There seems to be a huge disconnect between those who criticize the teacher and school in that the child did not have to read the book, which should be the issue. And, I'm sure your children are as virginal and pure as you believe them to be. However, I know plenty of my friends that believed the same of their children only to have that illusion shattered when they found out what their kids were doing when out of their sight. If you put unrealistic expectations of perfection on your children, they will rebel.

I know I'm a little late to

I know I'm a little late to this discussion since this was posted over a year ago. But I must say that I completely agree with the above comment. I was raised in a sheltered home and my parents were very protective of me until I turned 20 and moved out of the house. When I went to college I had a difficult time adjusting and dealing with the pressures of the real world. Though I don't think parents should allow their children to do whatever they want and there should be rules and regulations, children should not be sheltered and kept from the the "big bad world". It's better they know how to deal with the difficult choices they will face once leaving the safety of their parents home than to have to figure it out all alone whenever they're adults. Also, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is hardly an 'evil' book for a 16 year old to read. When I was in high school the people who read this book were the good kids who didn't do drugs or sleep around and graduated at the top of their class. Heck, they didn't even smoke cigarettes. It was the students who chose not to read and expand their minds that were participating in these risky behaviors. Be a parent when your child is young, but don't shelter them from the real world forever. You're only hurting them in the long run. You raised them right, now trust them to make their own decisions.


Very true with the last sentence or paragraph of this comment thats what im going through with my mom right now super high expectations are never actually met.

Thank you

What a wonderful response to these comments. Everything you said is right. In these days when our children are being hit from every side by violence, sex, drugs, etc. it is so refreshing to see someone stand up for what is right. It is the parent's choice what their children are exposed to, and you will probably find that most of the negative responses are coming from those who expect others to do the job of educating their children instead of standing up and fulfilling their responsibilities. In this day and time, where everything "wrong" is "right" thank you for showing the other option - and that is, if it is wrong it is wrong, no matter how many are doing it!

Third, people can defend the

Third, people can defend the book all they like, but there are without question topics that are written about that *some parents* will find objectionable for their ninth grade children to read. I believe that every parent has the right to determine what is objectionable for their children, including Chuck and Wendy. The school should respect this right. If you don't like what the school is teaching, send them to a private school. You cannot expect a school or teacher to cater to every child individually. And it's great to try to keep your child pure, but you are totally naive if you think you are doing so. Just because they are not having sex does not mean they are pure. Without a doubt, I'm sure your children, just like mine and every other child, has done things you don't want them to do. That's a way of life. You may think you have sheltered your children, but unless you keep them under lock and key, they are not sheltered. You will be in a world of shock when your children head off to college and actually have some freedom.