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BOONE, N.C. – The Watauga County Board of Education tonight voted 3-2 to keep Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” in the county’s public school curriculum for sophomore honors English students after a challenge to the board had been brought. Two board-sanctioned committees had previously voted unanimously to keep the book in the curriculum.  

Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation, released the following statement:

“We applaud the Watauga County Board of Education for doing the right thing and supporting the freedom to read. Sophomore honors English students in Watauga schools will now be able to once again read ‘The House of the Spirits’ with the benefit of faculty led classroom discussions, and parents who object to assigned texts still have the option to choose an alternative reading option.”


BOONE, N.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) will join members of the Watauga County community, including parents and students, on Thursday, February 27, to speak out against censorship and urge local officials to vote against calls to ban Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” and other literature from the county high school curriculum.

The Watauga County Board of Education will consider a final appeal seeking to remove Allende’s critically acclaimed novel, which appears on statewide reading lists, from the county school curriculum later that evening. Two board-sanctioned committees have previously voted unanimously to keep the book in the curriculum.

“The freedom to read is essential to a healthy democracy,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation. “We’re proud to join students and parents from Watauga County in urging their local officials to do the right thing and not go down the slippery slope of banning books that promote critical thinking and classroom dialogue. We hope Watauga officials will join their peers in Randolph and Brunswick counties who earlier this school year recognized the danger of banning books and in the end voted in favor of the freedom to read.”  


CANTON, N.C. – The administration of a public high school in western North Carolina has agreed to allow a group of students to form a club for nonreligious students after the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent officials a letter explaining how denial of the club would violate federal law.

“Students of all beliefs, religious and nonreligious, deserve an equal opportunity to meet in a safe and welcoming space where they can socialize and discuss their views with peers,” said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook, who co-signed the February 11 letter. “We’re very pleased that this situation is now resolved.”

Students at Pisgah High School in Canton have been trying since October 2013 to form a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance, which seeks to create welcoming communities for nonreligious students, but were told by officials that the club would not “fit in” and could not find a faculty sponsor. The school has about 30 extracurricular clubs, including at least two religious clubs: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Key Club.


This article originally appeared on NC Policy Watch.

By Raul Pinto, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina

How should the government treat young immigrants who were brought into the United States through no fault of their own by their undocumented parents? That question is one of the most urgent in our national immigration debate. Most of these young immigrants have lived in the United States almost all of their lives; it is where they call home. In North Carolina and states across the country, they attend school, go to work, and pay taxes.