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School drops Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ following complaints

School drops Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ following complaints
Kids should not have to ‘endure embarrassing and offensive language’

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s celebrated novel about a wrongful rape accusation in 1930s Alabama, has been removed as required reading in a school district in Washington state.

Three teachers in Mukilteo School District, about 15 miles north of Seattle, objected to the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning book due to its romanticisation of the “white saviour” complex, one-dimensional Black characters, and frequent use of the N-word.

The board has now approved the request to have it removed from compulsory reading for ninth graders after ruling it was causing harm to students of colour.

Teachers will still be allowed to continue to use the book in optional lesson plans.

Ms Lee’s classic is one of the bestselling books of all time and continues to be widely revered, with a stage version of the story currently enjoying an extended run on Broadway.

Atticus Finch, the bespectacled defence attorney, his daughter Scout, and neighbour Boo Radley are among the best known fictional characters in American popular culture.

However, in recent years school districts from California to Mississippi have banned the book over concerns it was traumatising Black students, and employed a “white” portrayal of Black people.

The Mukilteo School District’s Instructional Materials Committee, made up of 20 teachers and parents, approved the request after a public meeting on Monday.

<p>To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 </p>

To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007

Teachers and students who spoke during at a meeting on Monday night ahead of the committee’s vote were mostly in support of the move, The Everett Herald reported.

Local news site Crosscut.com reported teachers had questioned the novel’s place as a “cherished classic” in American literature at a school board meeting earlier this month.

“We need to examine carefully … whose collective memory we are upholding,” Verena Kuzmany said, according to the site.

Teacher Doug Baer said kids should not have to “endure embarrassing and offensive language” during class discussions of the book.

Teachers from the district stressed they were not banning the book, but simply making it an optional part of the curriculum.

Ms Lee died in 2016 at the age of 89. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W Bush in 2007.