Group of Teachers Who Want to Ban ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ From School Curriculum Say the Book ‘Centers on Whiteness’

The school board supported a decision that makes the novel no longer mandatory for freshmen students

A group of teachers at a School District in Washington State who asked to remove Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” recently argued that the book is centered on “whiteness.”

High School English teachers Verena Kuzmany, Riley Gaggero and Rachel Johnson asked in 2021 for the book to be removed from the Mukilteo School District’s curriculum, the Washington Post reported.

In a formal complaint, the teachers expressed their opposition to teaching the novel in classrooms.

“To Kill A Mockingbird centers on whiteness,” they wrote in their challenge, according to the Post. “it presents a barrier to understanding and celebrating an authentic Black point of view in Civil Rights era literature and should be removed.”

The Instructional Materials Committee held a virtual private meeting on Thursday and voted in favor of removing the novel from the ninth-grade required reading list but keeping it on the approved novels list. 

The school board ultimately backed that decision, which makes the novel no longer mandatory for freshmen students, but it could still be taught, according to the Post. 

“We profoundly question why we should read a book by a White author, in which Black characters are secondary, voiceless, meek, and two-dimensional,” said Verena Kuzmany, an English teacher at Kamiak High School, during the meeting about the book.

In a formal complaint launched in 2021, the teachers expressed their opposition to teaching the novel in classrooms.

Kuzmany also said that while the book has been useful for a while, “white authors and white characters” shouldn’t tell stories of African Americans. 

School book challenges have been reported nationwide over the past few years, which included attempts by conservatives to ban books about LGBTQ+ issues and race from being taught in classrooms. 

A Washington Post analysis showed that books targeted in the 2021-2022 academic year included ones by and about the queer community or people of color.

 Most of the attempts to ban those books came from parents or residents and only 8 people of 500 listed in the Post’s database were school staff.