Name: Bismarck, ND School Libraries

Date:  1985 - 1995

Location:  North America

SubjectSexual/Gender Orientation , Explicit Sexuality , Nudity


Artist: various authors

Confronting Bodies: Parent Cindy Hochstetler and Bismarck School Board

Date of Action: 8/2/93

Specific Location: Bismarck, North Dakota

Description of Artwork: Various books including "Deliverance" by James Dickey, "Vision Quest," by Terry Davis, and "Sex Education," by Jenny Davis.

Description of Incident: Parent Cindy Hochstetler won part of her battle to get "shocking and pornographic" books out of Hughes Junior High School classrooms and libraries, and was continuing to fight the remainder. In April, Hochstetler filed complaints against library books "Deliverance," by James Dickey, "Vision Quest," by Terry Davis, and "Sex Education," by Jenny Davis. She also lodged protests against seventh-grade classrooms use of "Dead Birds Singing," by Marc Talbert, and "Jason and Marceline," by Jerry Spinelle. In late July librarians agreed to move "Deliverance" and "Vision Quest" to high school libraries. On August 2, a review committee voted unanimously to keep Sex Education in the library and 8-1 to keep the Talbert and Spinelle books on the seventh grade reading list. "I'll let the Sex Education book go, " Hochstetler said after the meeting. "I just wanted a group of nine people to review it." but she appealed the other two books. On August 24, however, Superintendent Lowell Jensen ruled in favor of keeping the books. Hochstetler said she would appeal that decision to the Bismarck School Board. Reports of censorship in America's public schools continued to mount during the 1992-93 school year, according to People for the American Way's annual survey, "Attacks on Freedom to Learn." The survey reported 395 attempts to ban books, lessons or educational approaches from classrooms, school libraries, or districts in 44 states. The nunber, the highest in the eleven-year history of the report, compares to a previous record of 376 cases last year, which itself marked a fifty percent increase over 1990-91. The censors succeeded in 41 percent of the reported cases, according to People for the American Way President Arthur Kropp. States with the most challenges in 1992-93 were California, 29; Pennsylvania, 26; and Oregon, Texas, and Washington, each with 21. Rounding out the "top ten" were Minnesota, 19; Ohio, 18; New York,17; Wisconsin, 16; and Florida and Maryland, 15 each. Overall, the most frequently raised objection was to alleged religious content. Sexual content was the second most common complaint, then profanity.

Results of Incident: The reading list remained unchanged along with "Sex Education" remaining in the library, but both "Vision Quest" and "Deliverance" were removed.

Source: Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association

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