Vote will keep controversial book in school library

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A concerned parent said a high school library book is pornographic and that it promotes prostitution and child abuse, but a school district committee voted to keep that controversial book in the library.

“I just started going throughout the whole entire book, looking at it,” said Catrenna Lopez, mother of a freshman at Rio Rancho High School.

Lopez took cellphone pictures after seeing the book her 15-year-old son brought home from the school library last month.

“First thing I did was open up the book and come to a sex scene in the book,” Lopez said.

She is talking about Gilbert Hernandez’ graphic novel, Palomar.

Lopez said she marked at least 30 pages she said have explicit or offensive content.

“Found more of the promotion of prostitution, child pornography, child abuse, the sexual innuendos, the sexual scenes, the nudity in it,” Lopez said.

One image shows a girl beaten by her father.

Lopez said the book doesn’t belong in a high school library, but groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund wrote a letter to Rio Rancho Public Schools to defend the highly-acclaimed novel, saying it’s an “exploration of culture, identity, sexuality and memory.”

“This parent absolutely has the right to say, ‘I don’t want this book in my home,’ but she doesn’t have that right to take that choice away from other parents,” said Charles Brownstein, CBLDF executive director.

Rio Rancho Public Schools said a committee selected by the superintendent voted two weeks ago 5 to 3 to keep the book in the Rio Rancho High School library, saying it meets the standard of the Rio Rancho School Board’s Library Bill of Rights despite the adult sexual themes.

“It is clear from the committee’s decision that the community values this book and it does have a place in high school and in this particular high school library,” Brownstein said.

Lopez said she is appealing the district’s decision.

“To me, this book is kind of like having a Hustler magazine in the schools,” she said. “Is that really something that we want to promote in the schools?”

The district said an appeal would go to the school board for consideration.The board would make a decision during a public meeting.

The book has been in the Rio Rancho High School library since 2006. It shows only two people have checked it out from the library in that time.

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