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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In my experience, one of the purposes of literature is to offer the reader characters with which to identify. If you believe that high school students should not read about sexuality, or any other real-life subjects, how should they discover their own individuality? Would you instead prefer that students are told what to think instead of how to think? And here I thought we were living in the first country to promote free thought, choice, and expression...silly me.
You're trying to steer them. The message is quite clear, already addressed by one teacher - "Hey these folks are just like you....um....except they're gay, rapists, and drug addicts." Do we really want our youth identifying with those people?
Thank you. Enough said.
I for one am glad to see parents stepping up and paying attention to what is going on in the schools this day. We as parents are to protect our children; that is ordained by God. I don't believe protecting your children from this type of book is a result of negligence or hiding under a rock. They are doing what they are supposed to do - staying on top of what goes on in their child's life. This type of book is not, or ever will be, acceptable reading in middle school. I have read some of the responses and one thing comes to mind - you can bet that most of those supporting this book being in school probably don't know or don't care what goes. Unfortunately, alot of children are sent to school, not for learning, but just to get them out of someone's hair! That is the sad thing about all of it!
Hey Anne- You failed to read the article at all. This isn't a middle school- it is high school. The same age as the kid in the book. You are right though that this isn't a book for middle school. That's why it isn't being taught in middle school. It also wasn't required but the parents don't want you to know that. Get your facts straight before you start preaching.
you didn't even use proper grammar in your first sentence "going on in the schools this day" that doesnt make any sense to me work on your grammar a bit more first why don't you? lol
PLEASE READ PEOPLE!!! RAPE AND HOMOSEXUALITY SHOULD NOT BE PUT IN THE SAME SENTENCE! THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. RAPE IS A CRIME AND HURTS PEOPLE FOREVER! FURTHERMORE, AN OVERLY SHELTERED KID WILL GO OUT IN THIS WORLD SCARED AND HELPLESS AND CONFUSED! KIDS THAT AGE ARE CONFUSED, THIS BOOK LETS THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE.
I applaud these parents for having the courage and the common sense to stand up for what they believe is the right thing. They have not just stood idly by and watched their child become a government school distressed and confused teen. It's not called "sheltering", it's called caring! To many of the parents today just take whatever kind of education the government is handing out for their children. Excuse me, but the government isn't interested in creating bright people. Then they might start to question the government. The government just wants you able to conform and be able enough to pay your taxes like a good little worker. Nothing more. My point is proven by the fact that the better an education you want your child to have the harder the government makes getting it. Look at the school voucher plans, that by the way we do not have and should.
Even if the kid was out the day the teacher gave the choice or he miss the form. There are other days in the week. Change your book. I wish there was this much effort in keeping kids safe while on school grounds, than is going into this books issue or eatting healther. Can you image what this kid is going through with his friends at school. The bullies will come out in full force now. Parents choice change the book, It works that way with something you don't want to watch on TV change the channel,, There has to be more to it. Maybe lawsuit against the school. ???
The boy in that picture looks mortified. It says very clearly that they were given the option to read something else. He probably didn't tell his parents about it so he could live a little and be inspired. So instead of talking about it with their son, they remove him from school. Yeah, that'll help him. You can be innocent and still be informed people. Now I'm going to go find the book and read it, I hear it is very good and makes you think. I personally...like to think.
Are you kidding me? Where have these parents been. They need to be realistic in what is out in the world. I have teenagers who know full well what is going on in the world and are better for it. As their parent I have taught them what is right and wrong. I would never pull my child out of school because I disagreed with a book choice. That is just crazy.
Are these parents for real or what? I believe that children should be protected but up to a cerain point in their lives but at 15 yrs old it's time to let them out of the bubble. Our children are dealing with things much more dangerous than we did as children and if you've instilled your values and morales in your children then at some point you need to let them go and only hope they will make the best decisions for themselves. A book is certainly not going to harm them. Parents should be a lot more worried about the drugs in our school. I have a child in Ashley and he is taking freshman honors english with Mrs. Meeks and he is fantastic and he really enjoys her classs! There is absolutley nothing wrong with the reading choice provided and after all he had a choice to make. So to pull him out is just absurd.
Conditioning students to accept and even embrace liberal causes has been a cornerstone of public education for forty years. While it is in their best interests to start them young (e.g., "Heather has Two Mommies") it is an effort that continues through the education life of every student. Our colleges and universities are perhaps the worst. I can recall taking a final exam in Psch 105, back in '75, where anyone who disagreed with the professor's strong feelings regarding outlawing the private ownership of firearms failed the course. (Thankfully, the failed students banded together, received WP grades, were allowed to repeat the course under another instructor at no charge.....and the untenured professor was FIRED! A small victory in the struggle against lunacy!) To the left, it's important that Elijah accepts homosexuality and substance abuse as "harmless hobbies that are just interesting aspects of life." I don't care if you have to eat PB&J twice a day, get your children into a private or parochial school. If you send them to public school, you will have to exert twice the normal effort of a parent to keep them from becoming left-wing nutjobs who want to destroy the American way of life.
Hey "Commonsense"- did you know that the teacher you are referring to is actually a registered Republican, voted 4 times for a Bush for President, and is a member of the National Rifle Association? No, of course you didn't know that because it then you couldn't make public rants about someone and a situation that you actually know nothing about. But nice try. I do know the teacher, the situation and also have taught this book and you couldn't be more wrong about your quick-to-judgment assessment of the teacher, the situation, or the book. There is no liberal agenda here, just a desire and ability to do a job they have been entrusted with and to provide reasonable alternatives for the children and the parents. But you've ignored those facts. Shame on you and shame on the parents that took a workable situation and turned it into a chance to get some TV time and put their child they want to protect on TV for public consumption.
Where did I state ANYTHING about this particular teacher? If you, too, are a teacher, you should be intelligent enough to differentiate between an indictment of the public school system, and an attack on an individual teacher. Is this book the teacher's sole, individual choice....or is it one book on an approved list from which teachers must select? Meanwhile, I remain skeptical of the need for ninth graders to be reading about homosexual sex. If it's not to foster a political agenda, then I can only assume you're trying to appeal to their prurient voyeurism. Eeeewwwww! (BTW, if this book was not chosen from a list, and was the individual choice of the teacher (and coincidentally you) might I point out that there's no shortage of "left-wing nutjob Republicans," as the entire New England Republican contigent in the Senate proves.)
I have been reading some of your post and you seem to be a very intelligent person. That is why it strikes me as ironic that you chose to be ignorant on the subject. And I mean ignorant in the real sense of the word. You haven't read the book. Although I haven't ever taught the book, I have read it and so has my 15 year old daughter. Which by the way, probably hears worse things on her bus ride to school than anything brought up in this book. The book is a collection of letters written by a 15 year old boy to an anonymous person. There is never any detailed description of homosexual sex. Charlie says that would be cruel to the people he was referring to, and even though Charlie does confide in this person that he tried recreational drugs, he in no way glorifies it. I realize that people have the right to believe any way they choose. And these parents certainly have the right to get on a soap box over any issue they feel necessary. But, I will say this, these kids are reading and relating to a book that deals quite sensitively to some delicate issues and if the parents of this boy have instilled all of the qualities, values and morals they want him to have, then I struggle to see a problem or an issue.
Here's my only point: It is not the public school's job to brainwash students into accepting or rejecting anyone. Acceptance or rejection should be the sum total of an individual's education and experiences, and are still that individual's right. One of the more emotional posters approached borderline hysteria about my (presumed) bigotry and the fact that gay teens commit suicide. What she doesn't understand is that just as I don't particularly care what they do to get their sexual thrills, I don't care if they are so emmotionally distraught that they check out because of their abnormality. Sexual preference SHOULD be an individual, private matter. It's no one else's business. Just as it's wrong to discriminate or harrass a gay person, it's wrong to sacrifice math, science, English composition, history and phys ed to push an agenda of political correctness. Regarding this book that so well teaches acceptance of all, we've heard how it covers homosexuality and drug usage. Is there any effort to teach that the Young Republicans are acceptable and just like everyone else? JROTC members? 4H or FFA memebers? Junior NRA members? Likely not - they're not "protected darlings of the left." Hopefully you now understand my objections to this type of assignment.
"'We're trying to keep him protected and sheltered in a healthy, clean environment and keeping him so he's innocent,' Wendy said." Good luck with that. He already knows and has seen more at age 15 than you did when you were 25. Instead of trying to shelter him, why not read the book along with him and discuss it together as a family? "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." So why didn't the parents just have the boy choose a different book? Seems to be a lot of fuss over nothing.
originally submitted by: Corgi Breeder "'We're trying to keep him protected and sheltered in a healthy, clean environment and keeping him so he's innocent,' Wendy said." Good luck with that. He already knows and has seen more at age 15 than you did when you were 25. Instead of trying to shelter him, why not read the book along with him and discuss it together as a family? Corgi Breeder: I totally agree with the comment you made about the parents reading the book with their son and discussing it together. In addition, I think they should read the book first, highlight areas of concern to them, and then, as their son reads it, share their thoughts with him and let him express his own feelings. Many times kids, especially teenagers, have tiny bits of information about controversial topics that they truly believe, and yet are way off the truth, dangerously off. There is no way, that we as parents can know what they actually believe. In addition to having a 22 year old and an 18 year old of my own, I worked with teens in a Christian environment for many years. I was amazed at what mistaken ideas youth had about some things. The majority of them cannot bring themselves to ask their parents about the truth, so they go on discussing among themselves these mistaken facts. You would be astounded at what they would discuss in front of me, and allow me to comment on and discuss with them. I was a non- judgemental medium between them and their parents. Or, how after these discussions, some actually asked me to talk to their parents with them about some issues they were dealing with. There is no true way to protect and keep our children innocent, but honesty, respect and truthful discussion with them is the first step. It is not an easy step. In a truly odd way, I and my kids were lucky, I had a non-intrusive legitimate way to introduce these topics. They were exposed to a lot of major issues in our family and while I worked at our church, and even now in places that I volunteer. My daughter and son are not innocent of knowledge of the terrible things that happen to people, or the way some people choose to live their lives, but they are very moral and aware of the consequences of making certain decisions. I am very blessed to have these two as my kids, and to have had the opportunity to assist other people and their kids when they hit rocky spots. My heart breaks when I see things like this happen, when I was a teen, "Are you there God, it's me Margaret" was banned from my parochial school when I was in 7th grade. Let me tell you, the one girl that had a copy of it charged us 50 cents each to borrow it. The idea of it being censored only made us want to see WHY! I recently re-read it when going through old boxes, and I laughed at the issues that were discussed and forbidden to us in 1976.
The parents are going overboard on this. This student was giving an option to read that book or another. Did the parents ask the teacher if their son still had an option. The parents are making this sound like an adult book that a middle school student would have to read. To the parents: your son ALREADY knows about rape, gay sex, and drugs. You aren't sheltering him from anything. He probably knows more than you do. I feel sorry for the boy. I'm sure he is already so embarrassed he probably can't show his face around his friends. Heaven forbid if this boys parents could hear what their son and his friends talk about when they are away from school
I read this book when I was around 20 years old, and it was the type of book that makes you want to keep reading more and more literature. I would hope that freshman in high school would have the same fate- to continue reading into adulthood. This book is perfect for a Freshman English class. I can't think of a more ideal time. Students can sympathize with the protagonist at that age.. stumbling through the same issues of transitioning into high school.
why are 9th graders reading this garbage? It sounds like liberal groups are trying to brainwash our children
what are you talking abut its not garbage its the best boo ever im in this class and i love the book i red booklike this at school all the time just like this one im reading on my own called "Candy" and yeah so far nothing graphic in this book.
Get a grip. I feel sorry for this boy. My daughter is in his class. People read the book and let the teachers do their job and teach the children about the social pressures they will see and may not have to endure. Hello! The title of the book is Perks of Being Wallflower. I'm glad that the book was being studied in class, it made my daughter be a little more insightful of situations that are going in real life and she does not have to get involved in social pressures of teenage life.
I pastor a congregation in Spirit Lake Idaho the home of Chuck and Wendy Strafford prior to them moving to NC. I also support their right to know and be informed of controversal subjects that will be taught in the schools. As parents we must be the filter for our youth. Isn't that what we do when they are young? Should we, as parents, abdicate our parenting to public institutions that do not have the same love and concern for our children as we do. I applaud their concern for their son and we as parents must be more involved as the filter from all that is out there in the name of literature. Pasto Terry Robinson
These parents need to grow up. This is probably incredibly embarrassing for their poor soon. There is nothing wrong with this book - they need to understand that students are reading it for a reason; to expose themselves to the outside life. Mommy and Daddy can't be standing outside his bedroom door with a baseball bat guarding against bad things forever. GROW UP!
Seems to me that the English teacher and principal could have given in and let the young man choose another book. That would have been far more appropriate. Any comment on why they didn't?
As a parent of a child in the class, I called to speak with the teacher but had to leave a message which was not returned as well as a message to the principal which was not returned. I wrote the teacher a letter asking for a change in reading assignment only for my child to be humiliated in class by the teacher in front of his peers. Who I might add, was instructed by the teacher, "Why don't you and your mom teach the class?" This book speaks about everything taboo. With everything going on in the world watching the six oclock news is alot to handle in itself even for adults! Our children have to grow up fast in todays world so its the parents job and responsibility to shelter them as much as possible. The teacher, as far as I know, doesnt even have her own children so what does she know about age appropriate reading material for teenagers? And to make perfectly clear----NO PERMISSION SLIP WAS SENT HOME TO BE SIGNED OK'ING THE STUDENT TO READ THIS HORRIBLE BOOK!!!
QUOTE: concerned parent "The teacher, as far as I know, doesnt even have her own children so what does she know about age appropriate reading material for teenagers?" I hope you get right with your God and quickly because you just said that a person that can not reproduce is not capable of being a teacher. The God I have worshiped for almost 50 years just shook his head at you. HOW DARE YOU pass such a judgment on a woman that walks into a job each day that you can't imagine. She faces nightmares you can't even dream up all while trying to HELP your child and do a job few can or WILL do for less than half the amount of money they are worth. But YOU think it is perfectly ok to say such a horrible thing about her. HOW DARE YOU?! Pray Hard. Jesus is sad, very sad at what you just said about another woman that works hard every day to make your child smarter, better and stronger... yet she has to deal with YOU dealing out rough self-appointed and self-righteous justice. How DARE you?? Get right with Jesus cos you just messed up BIG.
Ha silly person they did give alternate books the parents were just to stupid and busy screeching and yelling and banging the table to listen to the principle and teacher duh