Milford Exempted Village Schools will not remove “In the Time of the Butterflies” from its 10th-grade English curriculum, officials announced Thursday morning.
The district revised the novel after receiving three complaints from citizens who deemed its content sexually inappropriate and a threat to Christian values. They are the only applications that have passed through the central office in at least five years, said director of high school curriculum and instruction Paul Daniels.
Located in the northeastern suburbs of Cincinnati, Milford Schools serve approximately 6,600 students in Clermont County. His high school is ranked among the top 60 schools in Ohio, according to US News & World Report magazine.
Complaining parents said the book’s theme is “sex and evil” and that it exposes children to “an unhealthy view of sexuality, pornography” and impedes Christian beliefs.
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“Assigning this book is willfully and knowingly indulging in the obscenity of minors,” one parent wrote.
Controversy sparked on social media after members of the Milford community posted on Facebook about the book, drawing hundreds of comments on both sides.
“WARNING, THIS CONTENT IS EXPLICIT! Our 10th graders are being forced to read this porn at school!” user Amy Boldt posted to a neighborhood Facebook group.
A committee that includes parents, teachers and administrators read and reviewed the book per board policy and met Wednesday night to vote on whether or not to ban the book from Milford’s curriculum. After discussion, five committee members voted to continue including the book in the curriculum, and one voted to restrict it to “more mature students”. No one voted to remove the book from the Milford curriculum.
Ultimately, Superintendent John Spieser decided to keep “In the Time of the Butterflies” as part of the English curriculum for 10th graders, the letter says.
“The novel is an important component within the approved curriculum, it reflects the Milford Vision and our Portrait of an Eagle, and parents continue to have the ability to choose alternative texts for their children to read if they determine that it is best for them. do it,” Spieser wrote to families in the district.
Spieser reiterated that parents and guardians always have the right to choose an alternative text to any learning material if they believe that required reading is not in the best interest of their child. Alternative readings for this section of the curriculum include “The Curious Incident of the Dog at Midnight” by Mark Haddon; “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles; and “Station Eleven” by Emily St. Juan Mandel.
More about the novel ‘In the time of the butterflies’
The novel, by Julia Alvarez, was published in 1994. It is set in the Dominican Republic of the 1960s and follows the involvement of three sisters in the resistance against Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It is an American Library Association Notable Book and was selected for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program, which offers grants to support community reading programs designed around a single book.
“In the Time of the Butterflies” has been banned in the past, though it is currently not listed in Pen America’s latest index of books banned from schools in 2021 and 2022, which includes nearly 1,600 titles.
The book was removed from a New York State high school curriculum in the fall of 2000. The Port Washington board of education disapproved of Alvarez’s novel because of a drawing included in it showing how to build a bomb, according to the New York Times.
Milford schools adopted “In the Time of the Butterflies” into their curriculum in the 2014-15 school year, district officials said.
The book and other learning materials “align with the Milford Vision to inspire and prepare our students to reach their full potential in a diverse and dynamic world,” says Spieser’s message.
“We appreciate the active engagement of parents, guardians, students, staff, and community members in the important work that goes on in classrooms,” Spieser wrote. “We are especially grateful for the talented teachers and staff at Milford Schools who work every day to help our students become the empathetic lifelong learners we hope to inspire.”