The parents of a North Carolina student want a federal court to force their child’s public high school to remove Elizabeth Acevedo’s young adult novel The Poet X from its curriculum, the Charlotte Observer reports.
John and Robin Coble filed suit to have Acevedo’s book removed from Lake Norman Charter School classrooms. The parents of a ninth-grader contend that the book is “a frontal assault on Christian beliefs and values.”
Acevedo’s 2018 novel-in-verse follows Xiomara, a Dominican American teenager who deals with the difficulties of adolescence by writing poetry. The novel won a National Book Award and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize.
The Cobles object to passages including one in which Xiomara reflects that Jesus “feels like a friend…who invites himself over too often, who texts me too much. A friend I just don’t think I need anymore.”
“The school’s plan to teach the book to the young impressionable minds in their public secondary school runs afoul of the basic precept underpinning the Religion Clauses — that government must remain neutral in the matters of religion and is certainly forbidden from promoting or endorsing materials that exhibit hostility toward any particular religion,” the Cobles’ lawsuit reads in part.
The book is not mandatory for Lake Norman students, the school notes, according to WSOC-TV.
“LNC will not fall to pressure to censor The Poet X or any of its other literary selections,” the school said in a statement. “Instead, we choose to view this as an opportunity to share our school’s core values and to model navigating differences of opinions and perspectives respectfully and civilly.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.