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Mukilteo Keeps Book In Curriculum Parents Object To Angelou’s ‘Explicit Sexual Content’

Thu., Oct. 16, 1997

Maya Angelou’s book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” will remain part of the Mukilteo School District’s high school curriculum, the school board has decided.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday night to retain the book after an Everett couple, James and Barbara Brodhead, had objected to the book’s “explicit sexual content.”

“This was a wonderful chance for students and others to discuss the book with great sensitivity for the parents who brought the issue before the board,” said Superintendent Gary Toothaker.

The book, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970, details Angelou’s encounters with racism in the South and rape by her mother’s lover.

The Brodheads asked that the book not be taught in the classroom but had no objection to students reading it on their own.

The book is required reading in Heidi Gordon’s sophomore honors English class at Mariner High School.

Gordon told the board meeting that because Angelou’s book is uncomfortable and difficult to read for some students, she provides them with alternative reading material.

But James Brodhead pointed out that the alternative books aren’t discussed in class.

“My daughter spent four weeks just sitting,” he said, “because they didn’t discuss the book she read as an alternative.”

Teachers at the meeting expressed concern that the Brodheads’ request would encourage special interest groups who could tie up their time and board meetings with requests to change the curriculum.

Tags: censorship

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