The Monroe Township School District in Williamstown, New Jersey just yanked Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Nic Sheff’s Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines from their summer reading list after less than a dozen of parents complained that both included scenes of gay sex. Murakami’s has a graphic passage of sex between a 13-year-old lesbian and a 31-year-old woman and Sheff’s has scenes of himself gay hustling for a fix. Strangely, the parents had no problem at all with the books containing scenes of suicide and rampant drug use.
A committee of teachers, librarians and school administrators created the board of education approved reading list before handing it out to students. The district superintendent said, “[The Committee] read the books. They didn’t feel it was inappropriate based on the language that’s used, common language used on the street,” and added that students have seen more graphic things on television or in the movies.
It’s kinda like the recently removed rainbow flags in California and the safe sex bus stop campaign in Australia. When a handful of anti-gay people complain, institutions would rather just pull the offending pieces rather than face potential bad press or a ruckus. The reasonable response would be to point out the ridiculousness of their arguments and to have students, teachers, and educators stand-up and explain the value of keeping these books rather than buckling like belts.