They say every dog has his day, and now Enzo, the canine protagonist of The Art of Racing in the Rain, will have his in well-to-do Dallas classrooms once again. After becoming a national embarrassment for banning that book and seven others, Highland Park school district officials have reversed their decision.
Last week it came to light that Highland Park ISD banned Garth Stein's 2008 book about dogs, racing and overcoming adversity because they were worried a sexual scene might lead their high school sophomores into immorality.
The ban of that book and seven others, including Siddhartha and The Working Poor: Invisible in America, made school officials and the wealthy, conservative parents they serve look more than a little ridiculous.
Today, it came out that Dawson Orr, the superintendent of Highland Park ISD, has reversed that decision on the heels of an online petition and widespread criticism.
From the Dallas Morning News:
Orr apologized for the debacle on Sunday, saying that the decision to suspend the books followed questions from hundreds of parents.
"I made the decision in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict, and I readily admit that it had the opposite effect," he said in an email to parents. "I take full responsibility for the decision, and I apologize for the disruption it has caused.
"All the titles that were temporarily suspended will be restored to the approved reading list," he said.
Our friend Enzo the Dog isn't quite out of the woods yet, though. The Art of Racing in the Rain remains the only book "formally challenged" and under review by a committee of parents.
But in the meantime, it's back to being taught in the 10th grade classroom, where it was before.
Parents were upset by one scene in the book where an underage girl attempts to seduce the protagonist (the man, not the dog, you sickos) and later accuses him of statutory rape. Other books on the banned list dealt with alcoholism, abortion, or being critical of capitalism, the last of which must have really rankled some Highland Park parents.
Of the controversy, author Stein had this to say in a radio interview:
"I was a little baffled. I mean, there's so many positive messages in the book about how to lead your life, personal responsibility and so forth. I understand that part of the plot revolves around an allegation of sexual molestation. The scene is not very explicit but I guess the concept is. For the 10th graders that are the [Highland Park] class that's reading this, I think that's a discussion they should be having in the classroom or at home with their parents."
Hopefully, Enzo will prevail in the end.