Delaware’s Cape Henlopen School District removed Emily M. Danforth’s award-winning young adult novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post from the summer reading program after three formal complaints were received from parents.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a realistic coming-of-age story set in sleepy Miles City, Montana in the early 1990s. When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. But just as Cameron’s life starts to look brighter, her ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self.
The school board made the final decision to remove the book from the list, citing “inappropriate language” as their reasoning.
“I think that the number of times that the F-word is used in this book is way out of proportion for the other books,” said board member Sandi Minard.
The removal of The Miseducation of Cameron Post sparked controversy after several readers pointed out that the content of several other books on the reading list has gone unchallenged, despite being equal to The Miseducation of Cameron Post in their use of profanity and mature themes. Books which remain on the reading list include John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
AfterEllen, a news website dedicated to the representation of lesbian/bisexual women in popular culture, brought the removal of The Miseducation of Cameron Post from the Blue Hen list to the public’s attention and began a letter-writing campaign to protest the unfair double-standards behind the school board’s censorship. The campaign has since gained the attention of several young adult authors and local booksellers. Local independent bookstore Browseabout Books have pledged to donate free copies of The Miseducation of Cameron Post to students in the Cape Henlopen area. Author Emily M. Danforth has also responded to the campaign, starting the twitter hashtag #LeaveTheBlueHenListAlone and hosting a giveaway of the entire uncensored collection of books from the reading program.
“The board has clearly been made aware that while the other books on the Blue Hen list might not contain quite so many lesbians as my book does, some of them do have plenty of instances of the kinds of language the board members apparently find too inappropriate for freshman readers, and I can think of few things that would be more heartbreaking, in this scenario, than if this school board now attempts to censor those other books, too. I want to celebrate ALL of the books on the original, uncensored 2014 Blue Hen summer reading list—just the way those dedicated, informed librarians in Delaware originally intended,” said Danforth on her Tumblr.
AfterEllen has since reported that school board president Mr. Brittingham promised to request a reinstatement of The Miseducation of Cameron Post to the summer reading list.