A book of “slam” poetry can remain in a public charter school in a North Carolina town even if some parents have objected to it on religious grounds, a federal court has ruled.
The book, The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, has been part of the English curriculum at Lake Norman Charter School in Huntersville. Some parents objected to its content because they thought it was anti-religious. School officials offered the option of alternative reading material, but the parents sued anyway.
U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. ruled on Nov. 6 that while the parents’ objection was sincere, their concerns did not rise to the level of a church-state violation or justify removing the book.
“[I]nclusion of The Poet X as representative of a particular literary genre (slam poetry/verse novel) neither religiously inhibits nor instills, but simply informs and educates, students on a particular social outlook forged in the crucible of Afro-Latinx urban life,” wrote Cogburn. “To include the work in the curriculum, without further evidence of the school’s endorsement, no more communicates governmental endorsement of the author’s or characters’ religious views than to assign Paradise Lost, Pilgrim’s Progress, or The Divine Comedy conveys endorsement or approval of Milton’s, Bunyan’s, or Dante’s Christianity.” (Coble v. Lake Norman Charter School, Inc.)