Complaints ask for removal of "The Handmaid's Tale" from school curriculum

Published: Aug. 28, 2019 at 8:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Books being banned in schools is not a new topic. But a recent effort to remove one such book from a student elective at Marietta High School reignited controversy about censorship in schools.

"I absolutely didn’t expect this," said Jona Hall, director of curriculum, talking about the new student-focused electives this year.

The courses were made with help from students, who selected books and topics they liked. One of those books was Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been adapted into an award winning TV series on Hulu.

"It’s a book that focuses on an oppressive government that takes over a community and that women in their gender roles are oppressed," Hall explained.

Two complaints were made to the district’s board to have it removed based on its vulgarity and sexual overtones. But school officials say the complaints were selective.

"They were merely excerpts that were taken out of context," Hall said, "so within context, there’s a better understanding of the character and the storyline involved and literary analysis."

Hall and other school officials say censorship is a very tricky subject and that education is the best place to have these types of conversations.

"Censorship is a very scary place to go," Hall noted, "...and what a great place to have to have our students have those conversations than with a teacher, with an educator, who can have those safe conversations that will allow our students to go out into the real world and be able to identify some of these issues and atrocities that still occur today."

And when asked how the students in this class felt about the issue, Hall says they were disappointed that certain sections were cherry picked for controversy but also that there's a lesson to be learned here.

"[They were] excited about the fact that is has created conversation," she said, "because what better way to educate people than to have conversation but censorship is not a way to educate so opening up the conversation, bringing it to the forefront helps this completely."