Gazette Editorial: GBHS Shouldn’t Remove Content From the English Curriculum

In response to recent critiques against GBHS’s English curriculum, the Gazette has produced an editorial giving the publication’s official stance.


Lichen Fischer

Removing books or poems from the curriculum because we do not agree with the content for religious or political reasons promotes ideological homogeneity when schools should be expanding students’ worldviews. 

Education from one perspective is indoctrination.

At the Sept. 21 Site Council meeting, Granite Bay High School parents persuaded council members to delay the approval of English supplemental materials due to content concerns. In accordance with Cal. Ed. Code § 60400 and Cal. Ed. Code § 60010, all supplemental content in the English curriculum (books, movies, poems, videos) must be approved by the Site Council. 

A handful of parents attended the Site Council meeting to protest content currently in the English curriculum. After the meeting, a group of 23 parents created a document detailing their criticisms. 

Common concerns included books or poems discussing race, gender, or mature subject matter like rape and abortion. Other concerns included the critiquing of police, faith, the government and patriotism. 

The Gazette is firmly against the removal of any of the English curriculum’s current content. We believe that many of the criticisms against the English curriculum on the document are counterproductive, hateful and against the ideals GBHS claims it promotes. As students of GBHS and members of this community, we strongly discourage the Site Council from acting on these criticisms.

The targeting of certain content because it discusses themes of race, gender, oppression, religion or patriotism is an example of counterproductive censorship. Parents should be involved in their children’s education, but many of these decisions should be made within the household. This right shouldn’t be abused to restrict valuable content and control other families’ decisions. 

If a parent feels that the content taught in a class is inappropriate, they can prevent their children from participating. Why take away that decision from other families? Limiting GBHS’s education by prescribing household decisions to classroom curriculum will limit our dedicated teachers and severely stunt the education of our student body.

The Gazette hopes that this editorial will bring awareness to members of the community and persuade those with an opposing viewpoint to reconsider their concerns.


Uncomfortable Conversations:

All italicized quotes in this article have been taken from the document created by parents.

“Commentary – The poem explores the speaker’s memories of growing up in a predominantly Black suburb of Cincinnati, taking care to emphasize happy moments with family and the strong sense of community that the speaker felt. ‘Childhood remembrances are always a drag if you’re Black you always remember things like living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet’ and ‘and I really hope no white person ever has cause to write about me.’ This feels divisive. I feel as if African Americans can talk about loving their community without the divisiveness.”

(Comment on Nikki Giovanni’s “Nikki Rosa”)


In the document created by parents, 29.4% of all challenged materials discussed racial issues. 

Bringing up race, America’s history and systems of oppression can make students uncomfortable or even guilty. But these subjects are real and necessary to talk about. This content about race is not a criticism or generalization of all white people, but rather a condemnation of racist ideologies and systems. It isn’t about making white people feel uncomfortable with their race. It’s about recognizing that minorities’ struggles are not confined to history textbooks. There is humanity in their stories and a perspective worth telling. It is key that our English curriculum acknowledges that the stains on America’s past have bled into the present in both overt and subtle ways.

Ignoring these stories erases a crucial part of America’s past and present that can open students’ perspectives on race, the strength of inclusivity and how we interact in a diverse world. Most students will not actively pursue this content outside of the classroom, so it’s important that the curriculum makes a place for it. The school doesn’t need to “protect” students from talking about race and pretend like it doesn’t exist. 

The discomfort of merely discussing racism is proof that our culture hasn’t worked through these issues. It’s why 66.7% of the books in question have African American authors. Why do minorities’ stories need to be qualified and sanitized to be palatable for a white audience, while Eurocentric stories are automatically accepted? The content is ugly because it’s honest. That’s what makes it worth discussing.

Thinking about your race is hard, especially in a predominantly white community. But this is why content about race shouldn’t be removed. It forces students to acknowledge that their worldview is not the default. The white, upper-middle-class GBHS student perspective is just one of an infinite number of equally valid perspectives. These diverse stories are not breaking from the traditional mold of education. They are the complete version.


“This is NOT something I want my child to read, nor is it appropriate. It pushes LGBTQ ideology and narrative and glorifies suicide as the only option to rejection.”

(Comment on Joyce Carol Oates’s “Life after High School”)


This line of logic also extends to LGBTQ+ perspectives. The Gazette is against the removal of any current LGBTQ+ materials from the English curriculum and disagrees with any notion that content with LGBTQ+ representation is explicitly and automatically pushing an agenda or ideology. In the document created by parents, 21.6% of all challenged materials discussed homosexuality. LGBTQ+ voices are underrepresented in our education, and removing content for simply having a trans or queer character is transphobic and homophobic respectively. Doing so would go against the principles of inclusivity and acceptance that GBHS champions.




“About an aborted pregnancy. Concerning! Hard no and not something I want my children learning in school.”

(Comment on Lucille Clifton’s “The Lost Baby Poem”)

“The poem expresses a crisis of faith, with the speaker acknowledging the diminished standing of Christianity, which the speaker sees as being unable to withstand the rising tide of scientific discovery. Commentary: This fits the narrative that religion is illiberal or illogical. Thus diminishing students of faith.”

(Comment on Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”)

“There seems to be a thread running through all the poems of war. Each one portrays patriotism or nationalism in the extreme. Severe lack of balance.”

(Comment on E.E. Cummings’s “Next to of Course God America”)

“Could be interpreted and thought of as being specifically about a sexual experience.”

(Comment on Emily Dickinson’s “I started Early–Took My Dog–”)

“PROBLEM: spotlighting the Michael Brown shooting by white police; glorifying police brutality and justifying BLM and ignoring the events leading to the shooting. Completely racially driven content to make law enforcement officers enemies. Michael Brown was a drug dealer with a record.”

(Comment on Clint Smith’s “Counting Descent”)


Removing books or poems from the curriculum because we do not agree with the content for religious or political reasons promotes ideological homogeneity when schools should be expanding students’ worldviews. 

When looked at as a whole, the complaint document is an embrace of white Christian nationalist ideals, advocating for stories involving people of color to be sanitized or excluded, Christian values to be promoted without challenge, and critiques of America to be silenced. Parents can and should be shaping their children’s ideologies in the household, but this right doesn’t extend to other children. 

Exposure to content and viewpoints we disagree with is a necessary part of the public school education system. If we are only okay with the curriculum when our ideas are represented then we deny our students the ability to understand every side of an issue. 

The distress from parents shows a lack of faith in their own children’s ability to understand or respect mature subject matter. High school students are capable of differentiating between discussing mature subjects and glorifying them. It is important that the Site Council, CILT and the board do the same. The English curriculum teaches students how to engage critically with the media they consume. Assuming that content with mature subjects is automatically indoctrination ignores the context of the content and how it is being utilized in the classroom. 

Removing room for interpretation and difficult subjects from our curriculum stunts critical thinking, eliminating a major component of education. GBHS cannot claim to promote students’ curiosity and critical thinking if it is afraid to show them content that doesn’t fit a traditional white Christian nationalist narrative. This obsession with quarantining students from other perspectives throughout high school produces less well-rounded members of society.

If the school cannot prepare students for the real world, it is failing them.  




“Honestly this is just completely confusing. I have no idea what he is talking about. There is mention of Jesus & God, but I feel this is completely open to interpretation. Feels like he was high and just writing in my opinion.”

(Comment on John Deane’s “Driving to Midnight Mass”)

“A poem about young interracial intimacy and prejudice surrounding it … not awful, but lots of room for interpretation.

(Comment on Countee Cullen’s “Tableau”)


A vocal minority wants education to be a reflection of only one set of ideals. When education is only looked at through a white Christian nationalist lens, there is no room for other perspectives or critiques. It is freedom of expression on their terms.

Student expression is being stifled. Posters protected under Cal. Ed. Code § 48907 that were protesting these decisions were removed by the administrators. Experienced teachers are being told how they should run their classrooms. Many of the parents protesting the English curriculum have been disrespectful to the Gazette’s staff. Literature is being challenged for simply including different perspectives.

Valuable content is being removed in the name of students. But students won’t be better off with these changes. A school that produces a less informed, single perspective and complacent student body is self-defeating. 

So as students who learn from this content in our English classes, who will be impacted by these changes and who truly want the best for GBHS, we are asking the Site Council to not remove this necessary content.


What can we do?


“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.”

-Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451”


If you want to do something, if you believe that diversity is a strength and student learning shouldn’t be constrained, we strongly encourage you to attend RJUHSD board meetings and GBHS Site Council meetings. Contact board members and voice your concerns. Speak at meetings. If you are a student, make sure your parents are informed of this situation and encourage them to attend board and Site Council meetings with you. The next Site Council meeting will be on Oct. 12.

If we do not participate in these decisions, they will be made for us.