In high school in Texas the 80s (Cypress Creek) I wrote two articles for the school newspaper that were banned.
I was just thinking about this as I looked at the totally bonkers list of books banned recently from the Katy and Cy-Fair school districts on the outskirts of Houston. Wacky Wednesday??! Yes, the Dr. Seuss book! Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret at least has a long history of being banned, though it was pretty bland, mostly about getting your period, not even anything spicy. I’m trying to imagine why Wacky Wednesday would be banned as “inappropriate for children” and failing. (Secretly about drugs?)
My first banned school newspaper article was written from interviews with kids I knew about how what drugs people were doing and how they obtained them. It’s been a while, but my memory is that most kids stole them from their parents (coke from briefcases, or for the less rich kids, weed) and others hung out with older kids and did weed or X. (Which is what we called ecstasy before it was “molly” I guess. Why is it molly?)
Since at that time I was getting in-school suspension a lot, for being kind of fucked up but also just for dumb shit like — not even making this up — “satanic symbols on my folder” – which were anarchy signs and runes that said “Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! or “Cthulu lies dreaming in the ancient city of R’lyeh”. ANYWAY. I was in the nice, peaceful, quiet in-school suspension room doing my homework packets, reading, and not being bullied, and at lunch the druggie kids would tell me how they bought weed, so I wrote about it.
I got an A on the assignment and it was set to go in the student newspaper. None of us realized that the student newspaper was read over by the administration. But I found out! The extremely nice teacher let me know that I could keep my good grade but the administration would not let it go in the paper. I was so pissed.
So I wrote another article about censorship. I called various school libraries in our district, Cypress-Fairbanks, and called the superintendent of schools office and found that there were lots of banned books. They usually were banned because of something called the Committee of Concerned Citizens, which I had never heard of!
In our school library I found a lot of examples of incredibly pornographic gross romance novels, which I knew about because my super conservative friend’s super Christian mom used to read them and my friend let me borrow them. So many rape and Civil War scenes y’all, I can’t even. The books they banned included James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Yes, 1908s Houston, I’m sure all of us were just raring to read Ulysses and DH Lawrence.
So I wrote my article, it got an A, and then it was not allowed in the paper.
So I made an underground newspaper with both of my dumb articles in them, and some other writing I don’t remember that might not have been from me, and some badly drawn cartoons, featuring, a dead rat dead from “cafeteria food” as the assistant principal peed in a filthy school bathroom, missing the urinal (why? i don’t know, but someone drew it and it seemed edgy). This girl I knew vaguely took it and made free copies at her dad’s office and we spread the paper around and a few days later were busted. I wonder who told!
We were both actually suspended for this, but I was allowed back because if I missed my final exams I woudl flunk. I remember a tense meeting with the principal, a counselor, and someone from the superintendent’s office, and them saying, “We just want you gone. We’re letting you back so you can graduate and get out.”
Thanks y’all! Fuck you very much!!
I don’t know what happened to Elise or what her last name was or whether she got to take her finals but I hope she did!
I also wish I had a copy of that newspaper but it is long gone.
Also, check out this kid Cameron Samuels’ great speech to the Senate! https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2023-09-12_-_testimony_-_samuels.pdf “It should not have been my responsibility as a 17-year-old to defend my rights and challenge bigotry. Protecting children requires empowering us students, not allowing one or two parents to dictate the policies of an entire community.” Fantastic!
There’s worse shit to be mad at Texas about including their extreme anti choice laws and anti trans laws and trying to take kids away from their parents and not allowing trans kids to use school bathrooms but I’m also still mad about the books and the censorship! It’s all part of the same damn thing!
Fuck you very much AGAIN, you edge of Houston, kicker scum, fat faced, child molesting, golf playing, homo-hating, hick-ass Jesus lickers! I’m sure your nonsense is no better today than it was then! And I hope Wacky Wednesday bites you right on the ass.