UW–Madison’s Apple discusses movement to ban books in schools

WBAY-TV / Ch. 2 in Green Bay utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Michael Apple for a report examining recent efforts to ban certain books from school libraries, or restrict access to them for younger students.

Photo of Michael Apple

Apple is the John Bascom Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies in the School of Education.

At school board meetings across the country — including in Wisconsin — parents are challenging books that they see as sexually explicit and pornographic, the report explains.

One example is a book called “Flamer,” by Mike Curato, which was challenged at a recent Luxemburg-Casco School Board meeting. It is a graphic novel that chronicles a biracial student as he comes out to his peers and gets bullied. A parent in the school district argued that the book contains sexual content, curse words, and offensive language.

Apple says that efforts to ban books like “Flamer” that center around the LGBTQ+ experience are part of a well-organized campaign.

“What any curriculum should be is thoughtful, give students something they don’t already have, and make them into what we may call critical democratic citizens,” he says.

He adds that “Flamer” is an award-winning book about acceptance and self-discovery.

“When we look at the statistics of suicide among bullied kids, we’re not just talking about censorship because parents don’t want that book. We’re talking about kids’ lives,” Apple says.

To learn more, check out the full report at wbay.com.

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