Pa. high school students form anti-censorship alliance

PENNSYLVANIA — Students of Council Rock High School South haveunited to form South Students Against Literary and Cinematic Censorship in orderto combat attempts by some parents to limit media use in the curriculum.

Ryan Carlin founded the group after parents petitioned the school board toban R-rated films in the classroom.

Carlin accumulated more than 500 student signatures against the ban andpresented them to the school board during its monthly meeting.

The policy allows teachers to show district-approved R-rated films and filmclips as supplemental material to their curriculum.

After a four and a half hour meeting last Thursday, district school boardadministrators decided to keep its current policy on R-rated movies.

Superintendent Mark Klein said he feels the students’ efforts “wereoutstanding.”

“They carried the evening: they were mature, they were articulate and theyspoke very powerfully to why those images helped them understand the greatercurricular piece as well as the world in general,” Klein said.

Carlin said he “created this [group]… to show that there arelevel-headed, thinking students out there just waiting for their voices to beheard. I gave them that outlet.”

He credited his former Honors English teacher and her lessons on WilliamShakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice for motivating him to form thegroup.

“She taught that censorship causes blindness. By young adults not havingthe opportunity to read this play or see this play, they miss out on the lessonson the evils and stupidity of prejudice. Had it not been for this teacher, Iwould never have taken a stand,” Carlin said.

Of the list of classroom-approved films, only three were removed becausethey had not been shown for several years.

“They examined the policy, but the policy has been in place for a number ofyears and I don’t expect that we will revisit it,” Klein said. “We’vestrengthened it, obviously, and made sure that people adhere to it [and] madesure that everyone is aware of the ins and outs.”

Carlin said that the use of visual arts in education is important to himbecause it takes “education to a whole new level.”