'Persepolis' Ban Protest Earns Lane Tech Intellectual Freedom Award

By Patty Wetli on November 1, 2013 8:16am 

 Lane Tech students protest the decision to remove copies of the graphic novel "Persepolis" from Chicago Public Schools classrooms. The order later was rescinded.
Lane Tech students protest the decision to remove copies of the graphic novel "Persepolis" from Chicago Public Schools classrooms. The order later was rescinded.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

ROSCOE VILLAGE — The Illinois Library Association presented Lane Tech College Prep High School with its Intellectual Freedom Award, honoring the school for protesting the removal of the graphic novel "Persepolis" from Chicago Public Schools.

Lane Tech's student body and the school's 451 Degrees Banned Book Club were the official recipients of the award, which was first handed out in 1983. The award recognized "students’ advocacy for intellectual freedom through their responses to a book ban within the Chicago Public School system," according to a statement.

"Persepolis" is an autobiographical graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi. It describes the author's childhood in Iran in the 1970s and '80s as she lived through the Islamic Revolution and the country's war with Iraq.

In March, CPS issued a directive to remove "Persepolis" from the district's seventh-grade curriculum, citing complaints that the book "contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use."

Lane Tech's Academic Center enrolls seventh- and eighth-graders.

Initially, school librarians, along with classroom teachers, were told to hand over copies of "Persepolis" — an order that was later rescinded.

Lane Tech students and faculty quickly organized a protest in response to the CPS action.

At the time, senior Katie McDermott told DNAinfo Chicago that the book "sheds light on a different country and religion. It cancels out the stereotypes and changes your perspective."

Asked whether the content seemed inappropriate for younger students, her classmate, Alexa Repp responded: "I think it depends on how it's taught. That's the difference between education and exposure."

In honoring Lane Tech, the Intellectual Freedom Committee said that it "hopes by example, other students will support intellectual freedom issues in the future."

The award was presented at the library association's annual conference in October.

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