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Tuesday, July 9, 1996

Lindale School District Bans 32 Books, Including Many Classics

By Associated Press


LINDALE, Texas (AP) - The school board in a small East Texas town has banned 32 books on an advanced placement English reading list because a trustee said the books "conflicted with the values of the community."

The Lindale Independent School District board voted Monday unanimously to ban the books, including many classics such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Scarlet Letter" and "Moby Dick."

The board also directed school administrators to assemble a "suitable" reading list to replace the banned books. A recently formed book committee will then approve the new list.

The committee, which consists of parents and teachers, was created in June after concerns were raised about the appropriateness of the books which had already been approved by a teacher in charge of the English department.

Some of the books offended many school board members and parents because they contained profanity and described explicit sex acts, according to board president John Offutt, a Baptist minister.

Offutt, who said the book banning is "no one's personal agenda" and said they want the reading list to be based in the moral values of the community.

"The House of Spirits" by Isabel Allende is "pornography" that explicitly described necrophilia, a parent said.

"I believe that some of this books would contribute or do contribute to the demoralization of today's youth," said Cheryl Van Haselen.

Many of the banned books were especially not suited for 15 to 16 year-old boys, said trustee Gary Camp.

"We're turning our young men into ticking time bombs," he said.

Offutt, pastor of Prairie Creek Baptist Church, said the board's action was an attempt to make students adhere to Christian beliefs and was not a result of any personal agenda.

The book banning was not greeted with enthusiasm by all parents. Some said it denied students freedom of choice and would ultimately impair their education.

One citizen claimed a book committee member based her opinions on "what Jesus would or wouldn't read" and considered that opinion very presumptuous.

Offutt said the board is prepared to take any criticism its action might prompt because trustees believed they were protecting traditional family values.

Lindale has a population of about 2,000 and is located about 20 miles north of Tyler in East Texas.


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