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Fantasy novel stirs up controversy in Alamogordo

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Oct 15 2013 10:32:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 05:07:06 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports.

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. -

A fantasy novel is causing a lot of controversy in Alamogordo, N.M. So much so, the school district could ban the book.

Parents are concerned about 10th-graders reading a book called "Neverwhere."

The school district has pulled the book out of classrooms at Alamogordo High School while they review the material.

One teacher calls this "censorship."

"We cannot allow one person to tell other people what they are allowed to read," said Pam Thorp, an English teacher at Alamogordo High.

It started with written complaints to the school board. Two parents were concerned about a few paragraphs in a book 10th-graders were reading in class.

The offending passage has the F-word three times. It describes a sexual conversation between two of the characters.

"It does worry me because it's being made OK when we're trying to keep our kids away from all that, especially in schools," said Nicole Bedgood, a parent who lives in Alamogordo.

Superintendent George Straface said he understands parents' concerns, but he also sees the other side of the argument.

"We live in an interesting time, don't we? There's things that you can see on television that shock me that probably are worse than what I saw in that book, and it's accessible to our young people," Straface told ABC-7.

Straface will make the final decision after a review by the district.

The book has been in the curriculum since 2004. English teachers at the school hope it stays that way.

"I understand as a parent wanting a child to be sheltered a little bit from some of the more difficult aspects of the world. It was a book to get them to read because when they reach the high school level, a lot of them stop reading, unfortunately," Thorp said.

"It makes me feel a little uneasy because why put that in there if it doesn't need to be? If they can get their point across without having to use any kind of sexual content in there, then they should be doing that," Bedgood said.

Straface said it could take three weeks before he makes a decision on whether to keep the book in the curriculum.

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