A North Carolina school board will keep in its high school curriculum a book that tackles abortion, torture, rape and prostitution.
The Watauga County school board voted 3-2 on Thursday to keep Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” in the curriculum after the mother of a sophomore at Watauga High read the book assigned to her son and asked teachers to ban it, Fox 8 reported, citing the Winston-Salem Journal.
The vote follows a five-month controversy over the novel, a New York Times bestseller, which is recommended by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as part of the Common Core curriculum.
“Parents need and deserve an opt-out if they don’t want their children to read this particular book,” said board member Brenda Reese, who added she has read the book twice since the challenge first came up in October. “But I don’t feel like we should pull this book from the class.”
Legal Director for the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation Chris Brook released the following statement, according to NBC Charlotte
“We applaud the Watauga County Board of Education for doing the right thing and supporting the freedom to read. Sophomore honors English students in Watauga schools will now be able to once again read ‘The House of the Spirits’ with the benefit of faculty led classroom discussions, and parents who object to assigned texts still have the option to choose an alternative reading option.”
Craig Fischer, an associate professor of cultural studies at Appalachian State University, spoke out against banning the book at a board meeting in January, NBC Charlotte reported.
Fischer, whose son read “The House of the Spirits” at Watauga High School last year, told the station: “I completely understand parents who look at book and say this is a little too adult for my kid and opt for the alternative, but I don’t understand removing it completely from the curriculum and not allowing anybody to read it. It’s a slippery slope. Once you start taking books out of one curriculum, you can take other books out.”
The challenge to “The House of the Spirits” was the third in North Carolina this school year, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Two other counties — Brunswick and Randolph — saw similar challenges and eventually voted to keep “The Color Purple,” and “Invisible Man,” respectively.