A petition organized by national parent advocacy group ParentsTogether that addresses McMinn County School Board to lift their ban on “Maus,” has garnered more than 85,000 signatures.
It should be stated that the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about Holocaust survivors wasn’t “banned.” It was removed from the Tennessee district’s 8th grade curriculum over concerns of “rough, objectionable language” and an image of nudity. However, teachers still have it; school libraries still have it and students are still welcome to read it. Meanwhile, 8th graders in McMinn County are also reading other books on the Holocaust.
“Some politicians and other officials want to whitewash history, and prevent students from accessing material that deals honestly and accurately with our complicated social history,” the petition reads. “As parents, grandparents, students, and advocates for teaching tolerance and peace we urge the McMinn County Board of Education to lift the ban on Maus and discourage school boards nationwide from future efforts to hide important, age-appropriate educational materials from our children.”
Some signers left comments about their individual experiences with “Maus”:
“I taught Maus for years and I saw first hand how successful it is as a way to educate today’s youth on the Holocaust. I would also use it as a tool to have the student’s learn more about their family history. One assignment I would give would be to have the students interview someone in their family about an event in their lives and then turn that interview into a short comic, mimicking the style of Art Speigelman and Maus.” – Michelle T.
“The banning of any age-appropriate material is inappropriate, especially when it’s on the topic of the Holocaust. Middle-school aged students need exposure to historical events in order to understand people who led different lives than themselves.” – Katherine S.
“I am the child of Holocaust survivors. This is both an honor and a responsibility. I cannot offer a blanket endorsement to not ban any books about the Holocaust because I don’t know specific circumstances. However, in this case I believe the banning of Maus is a poorly crafted excuse for anti-Semitism. The excuses given do not hold up (like a characterization of a ‘nude’ mouse.”) I urge you to support this petition.” – Stephen F.
“Compared to the horrors of the Holocaust, “rough language” and nude drawings are trivial. Certainly kids have heard worse language in the media by eighth grade. The Holocaust is an appalling event and should not be whitewashed because of some “think of the children” mentality; in fact, such a mentality does kids a disservice, and us as well. If we as adults, educators, parents, cannot provide kids with context for the use of rough language and nudity, then we are failing them and ourselves.” – Sarah Y.