Don’t Ban Award Winning Teen Novel From Classrooms


Target: The School Board of Sarasota, Florida

Goal: Do not ban novel that educates teens about rape

Speak, an award-winning novel first published in 1999 and written by Laurie Halse Anderson, follows the story of a girl who is raped in her freshman year and is terrified to speak up about it. It handles topics like bullying and friendships while giving an accurate view of high school today. Speak is often used as part of a Language Arts reading curriculum in 7th grade and beyond as it teaches many valuable lessons in a way that students can relate to.

Unfortunately, there is always someone who sees the bad before the good and there have been several cases of parents attempting to get Speak banned. The latest attempt comes from a parent in the Laurel Nokomis School District, where Speak is read as part of an advanced 8th grade language class. This father believes that Speak is a work of “child pornography” and should be immediately be removed from the school curriculum. He specifically cites references to the few swear words in the novel as well as taking quotes out of context to make them look inappropriate. It was also stated that it was being used in an attempt to shame the male students.

Speak deals with a very important issue in a way that is not at all pornographic – there are absolutely no detailed sex scenes in the novel. The main character of the novel is only a freshman in high school, which makes it even more appropriate to be read in 7th and 8th grade, as these students may soon find themselves experiencing the same things as the characters in the book.

Thirty-five students in the Laurel Nokomis School District were asked whether they thought the book was too mature for them and 100 percent replied “no.” As per school policy, a committee of teachers and other educated personnel was assembled to review the book and decided it was appropriate for the students. A number of parents also wrote in to say that they approved of their child reading the novel.

Unfortunately, despite near unanimous approval, the book is now being sent to the district school board for review. Speak provides many important lessons and should be allowed to be read by students in 8th grade. Tell the School Board of Sarasota Florida to keep this book in the Laurel Nokomis School District.


Dear School Board of Sarasota Florida,

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a very important novel to keep in the curriculum at Laurel Nokomis School. It educates students about many important subjects, such as friendships, bullying, and the importance of speaking up. While it does include rape, the scene is neither graphic nor in any way “pornographic”. Rape is a very important topic for students to be aware of and is not the same thing as sex in a novel. Speak also discusses many situations that the students reading the novel may find themselves in as they begin high school the following year.

All of the 35 students interviewed agreed that the book was appropriate for their age level and several parents wrote in to say the same thing. The committee of teachers and other educated personnel at Laurel Nokomis believe that Speak is appropriate for the end of 8th grade and I am asking you to come to this same conclusion. Censorship, particularly censorship supported only by a select few, is something to fear. Education and knowledge are the two most important things a student can have and Speak opens up discussion for some very serious issues these students may be facing soon.


[Your Name Here]

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