Idaho school bans ‘The Walking Dead’

Despite a committee vote to keep it at the school, the district superintendent calls for the removal of the popular Image Comics series.

Wallace Junior/Senior High School in Wallace, Idaho has removed The Walking Dead from its library shelves following complaints from a teacher and parents.

According to the Shoshone News-Press, a teacher saw a student reading a volume of The Walking Dead during the 2018-2019 school year and objected to the content, including the “graphic language, violence and sexually explicit content.” Upon discovering the school library had several volumes of the comic, he took his concerns to the school’s principal, Chris Lund.

The principal then formed an 11-person committee that included students, staff and parents to review the material and vote on whether The Walking Dead should be removed from the school library.

“Principal Lund put together a well-rounded committee with students, educators and parents to read the books, and make a recommendation to the school board as to what should happen to the titles,” The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund wrote in their report on the incident. “This is a common aspect of many school district’s policies, with a diverse committee providing an approximation of the larger community, and therefore offering a hopefully unbiased recommendation for the challenged work.”

Ultimately that didn’t matter — although the committee voted to keep it in the library, the school superintendent, Dr. Bob Ranells, decided to remove it after receiving push back from parents about the vote.

“We want parents to have conversations with their children about these things at their dinner table,” Ranells told the Shoshone News-Press. “We don’t want to make these decisions for you or for your children.”

The school district is also reconsidering how its Interlibrary Loan Network works. Students can not only check out books from their school library, but also request books from the Wallace Public Library — where the copies in question of The Walking Dead ended up.

“How do we prevent these types of issues in the future?” Ranells said. “We have discussed the idea of implementing a two-library card system where one card may only allow students access to books in the WHS library and the other allows them to use the Interlibrary loan service. I think that would be a pretty good compromise.”

“[The Walking Dead] is more than the depictions of ambling, rotting corpses that likely drew the ire from the teacher who made the complaint,” The CBLDF said. “The zombie trope offers the setting with which a diverse cast of characters, and their readers, can explore serious topics including survivalism, trauma, grief, loss, and the capacity for people to rebuild personal, social, and societal bonds when their status quo has been ripped away. The Walking Dead contains some violence and profanity, and very rare sexual situations, which serve to lend authenticity to its stories.”

Given its popularity and content, it’s surprising we haven’t seen The Walking Dead banned more, but it doesn’t even make the CBLDF’s list of frequently banned books. The CBLDF says they will continue to monitor the situation in Idaho.

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