So It Goes: Missouri High School Bans Slaughterhouse-Five

Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 10:24
Cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler’s young adult novel Twenty Boy Summer have been banned from a Missouri high school curriculum and library after a local resident complained that they teach principles contrary to the Bible.

The Republic High School board voted 4–0 July 26 to remove the books, although they chose to retain Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, which had also been challenged by Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor at Missouri State University, the Springfield News-Leader reported July 27.

In a column in the News-Leader last September, Scroggins denounced the books and complained that the board had ignored the concerns he raised at their June 2010 meeting. “This is unacceptable, considering that most of the school board members and administrators claim to be Christian,” wrote Scroggins. “How can Christian men and women expose children to such immorality?”

Superintendent Vern Minor said that following Scroggins’ initial complaint a task force was convened to develop book standards for elementary, middle, and high schools. In April the board adopted the standards, which cover language, violence, sexuality, and illegal substances, and subsequently applied them to the three books.

As part of the reconsideration process, numerous individuals were asked to read the novels and provide feedback. “It was really good for us to have this discussion,” said Minor. “Most schools stay away from this and they get on this rampage, the whole book-banning thing, and that’s not the issue here. We’re looking at it from a curriculum point of view.”

Writing on her blog in response to the board’s decision, Ockler said, “You can ban my books from every damn district in the country—I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist.”

The News-Leader reported July 27 that Minor was now planning to propose a policy that would block R-rated movies from being shown in high school classrooms.