SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — Sierra Vista school administrators yanked a book from classes this week following parental complaints of sexually graphic material.
The novel “Dreaming in Cuban,” a National Book Award finalist, has never generated this sort of controversy before, said author Cristina Garcia.
Also, the American Library Association, which tracks books prohibited in schools, says it has no record of “Dreaming in Cuba” being banned.
The book that follows three generations of women during the Cuban Revolution was pulled from classrooms after a parent, Debbie Stoner, took her son out of his 10th-grade English class after students were asked to read sexually explicit passages aloud.
Barbara Hansen, a former Sierra Vista elementary school teacher, told the board Tuesday that the book seemed like “child pornography.”
“We’re bludgeoning their souls with this kind of material. It’s debauchery, and it’s just not worthy of our students,” Hansen said.
Garcia told The Associated Press on Thursday that students shouldn’t be deprived of a broader, cultural experience.
“Many works, not just mine, are misinterpreted or misguidedly banned because of the limitations and short-sightedness of a few,” said Garcia, who added she would be willing to visit Sierra Vista, which is about 70 miles southeast of Tucson, and answer questions.
The book is listed on the state’s recommended core-curriculum list.
School curriculum director Terri Romo said she was told books are recommended to show an appropriate reading level, not necessarily for purchasing.
Superintendent Kriss Hagerl says had the district been aware of the book’s content, they would have had teachers provide an alternative option.
Hagerl said while she resisted banning books, she also wanted parents to have an opportunity to give consent for books with sensitive material.
“We’ve learned a lesson in this, and we’ll make sure to put those steps in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Hagerl said.