Eric Warner Opinion Editor
Stories help shape the us into the people we become. Whether it be jokes that we often retell over and over again, experiences with friends and family that create memories, movies that inspire us, games that surprise us, or books that enlighten us. While all mediums of communication can be used for both good and bad and can be interpreted either way, only a few stories are ones that are truly diabolical and should erased from the masses. Most stories, however, have positive themes to tell that can improve our understanding of the world and people around us. Those messages deserve to be told.
Banned books week this year is Sept. 27 – Oct. 3 which is an annual event wherein people and organizations around the country celebrate their freedom to read books and highlight those books that shouldn’t be banned from the public. Libraries often ban books that are believed to be able to “corrupt” readers but usually the reasoning for banning these books is trivial such as banning the Harry Potter series because it teaches students to endorse demonic witchcraft. Often people judge books only on their covers or see one glaring issue without taking the whole story into consideration. According to the American Library Association, Banned Books Week, “… spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” One book that has recently been banned from a number of high schools without proper justification is Alison Bechdel’s 2006 autobiographical graphic novel, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.”
“Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” is about Bechdel’s recounting of her childhood as she tries to come to terms with her past specifically with her farther Bruce, who supposedly committed suicide when Bechdel was a young adult, just as she discovers her own sexual identity as a lesbian and learns that her father was a closeted homosexual. It’s a story of reflection and reevaluation of one’s childhood, family, and adulthood through fictional allusion.
On Sep. 10, a Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas, Nevada banned took “Fun Home” off of one of their English reading lists after some parents described the book as inappropriate for high schoolers. One parent stated to Fox5 Vegas, “Somehow teachers thought it was appropriate to give pornography to my child. The district needs to get involved.” More and more parents demanded the book be removed after being revolted by its seemingly vulgar contents. Eventually the school met the parents demands with the Clark County School District stating, “As soon as the school administration received information about the inappropriate material being included in a reading list of one of CCSD’s high schools, the school immediately removed the inappropriate content from the reading list…” (Fox5Vegas. com). Obviously, the book got into the school’s reading list somehow usually with a teacher’s or board of ed’s approval as not any teacher can pick out any book to teach with in most schools. The teacher or board probably thought people would be fine with a book covering these themes, after all it is 2020, but it seems some parents are stuck in the past.
Being a graphic novel, imagery within Fun Home is more apparent and easier to comprehend than imaging details written in a typical novel. While some images are revealing, they aren’t “pornographic” as some may claim with only a handful of images displaying naked imagery that isn’t even the focus of the story and is hardly explicit. If this was a common written novel people would not be in a fuss since a lot of books taught do tend to cover heterosexual scenes and themes. Nothing in this book is more graphic than the likes of “Frankenstein”, “Romeo and Juliet”, or “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. Fun Home”is ultimately a coming of age story of about a homosexual woman and that’s rare to find in schools generally and young adults who are LGBTQ deserve to be allowed to read and analyze a book they can personally relate to. Students who are on the verge of becoming adults also need to learn about these adult themes at some point in their life. I urge high schools to give this book a chance, and for parents concerned about its contents, give it a true read, you may just learn something new.