According to WBEZ and various other Chicago media reports on Friday, the Chicago Public School system is not banning the book “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Earlier in the week, it was reported that the book was being removed from all Chicago Public Schools’ classrooms and libraries. Now, it is being purported by the administrative office of the Chicago Schools that the text is being removed from the seventh grade's literary curriculum, but – in accordance with the United States’ First Amendment regarding free speech – the book is not being banned from schools and their libraries.
The book gives a very graphic description of the author of the book having been raised in revolutionary Iran, including printed illustrations of different forms of torture.
When word came out that the book was allegedly being banned, the American Civil Liberties Union contacted Chicago Public School authorities immediately regarding its concern about First Amendment rights regarding the ban. Additionally, there was to be a public protest around Chicago’s Lane Tech High School on Friday afternoon.
In response to the concerns, Chicago Public School’s new chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, informed principals by letter stating that the Chicago Public Schools were not banning “Persepolis” from its schools. The book, however, is being removed from the seventh grade curriculum and classrooms.
Due to the graphic nature via language and images delivered through the book, it has been deemed appropriate for upper classmen in high school.
A spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools states that the book was never actually banned, insisting that a poorly-worded communication gave that incorrect impression. In spite of the reason given, the protest went on as planned, and the news regarding an attempt to ban the book went global on Friday.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union criticized the removal of the book from the school classrooms because there are in excess of 150 elementary schools that don’t have libraries to offer the book. Therefore, the only way the book can be available is if it is in the classrooms. Therefore, the book has obviously been taken out of some schools - the many schools without libraries - and regardless of the Chicago Public Schools' wording of the action, the book is not available to many Chicago students. By the most basic definition of the word "ban," this is a ban of the book at many of Chicago's schools.
There are also reports of teachers' personal copies of “Persepolis” being confiscated and removed from schools, also.