A school board outside of Seattle voted to stop requiring students to read an iconic novel about racism and injustice in the Jim Crow-era Deep South.
The move reportedly had the support of the district’s superintendent.
The 1960 Harper Lee novel about a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman would still be found in the school library, and teachers could still assign the fictional classic it if they chose, according to the article.
Parents, students and teachers overwhelmingly spoke out against requiring students to read the book at a board meeting Monday night, the outlet said.
“It was clear from the comments received that there are many legitimate and thoughtful opinions about this novel and its place in school curriculum,” district spokesperson Diane Bradford told the outlet.
“The students who shared their experiences and thoughts with the board were especially compelling in their reasoning that there are other novels that can teach similar literary conventions and themes without causing further harm to students.”
The acclaimed novel is set during the Great Depression in rural Alabama and written through the eyes of a young white girl who is learning about the horrors of segregation and structural racism in her community. The n-word is used realistically dozens of times in its dialogue.
A former black student in the predominantly white town told the board it was “uncomfortable” and “traumatic” to be the only person of color in her class when the book was assigned.
“She said it actually led to more use of the n-word and she felt bullied as a result of her response in class,” Bradford reportedly said.
The coming-of-age story, which inspired an Oscar-winning film adaptation, was voted America’s best-loved novel by PBS viewers in 2018.