Something’s missing from the copies of Girl, Interrupted given to 12th graders at New Rochelle High in New York, reports Bob Cox’s Talk of the Sound. The English department chair ripped out pages 64 to 70 of the book, which is required reading, to eliminate two characters’ discussion of oral sex. The book is a memoir of a young woman’s time at a mental hospital in the 1960s. Students were assigned to compare the book with the movie version, which stars Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder.
“The material was of a sexual nature that we deemed inappropriate for teachers to present to their students,” said English Department Chariperson Leslie Altschul, “since the book has other redeeming features, we took the liberty of bowdlerizing.”
Several years ago, Altschul approved the book without reading it at the request of a teacher who’s no longer at the high school. It was taught for at least one year without a problem. But this year someone complained.
“We should either teach a book or not teach a book,” said one New Rochelle teacher who disagreed with the District’s decision. “What sort of message do we send our students when we vandalize books?”
We tell them: Go to the library, get the book and read pages 64 to 70! It’s hot!
Update: New Rochelle High has backed down: Students will get an unripped copy of the book and the school will review its method for choosing assigned books.