The after-school manga club at Magnolia Middle School in Delaware was a popular club bringing in 20 to 80 students who would read manga, talk about it, and check out anime. In order to get in the club, kids had to have written parental permission. However, the principal then banned all teen-rated manga from the school, and since the club was reading teen-rated manga, the club was forced to close.
Jennifer Antonik, a mom with two kids in the club, got a note from the club teacher one day sadly announcing, “Administration has decided that any manga or content (anime that I show during the club) that is over an ‘E’ or ‘Y’ rating cannot be in my room or shown/provided to students.”
Antonik, who said manga and anime have helped her kids through the grief of losing their father, wasn’t going to take this lying down. First she emailed the principal, and he answered, “All material rated T and up according to the rating scale needed to be removed from the classroom as it could be taken as inappropriate for our aged students.”
Not daunted, Antonik started a Change.com petition to bring manga back to the school. As of this writing, it has more than 1,200 signatures, with a goal of 1,500.
Antonik explained in the petition:
“I am deeply troubled by the recent decision to ban manga books and discontinue the Anime Club. These valuable resources have played a significant role in my children’s education and personal growth while fostering creativity, literary exploration, and building a strong community of friends. . .
It is disheartening that such an essential resource for our students is being taken away without proper consideration of its impact on their educational and social experiences. By banning manga books and discontinuing the Anime Club, we are depriving our students of opportunities for personal growth, cultural appreciation, creativity development, and community building.
I firmly believe that every child deserves access to diverse forms of literature that cater to their interests. Manga books provide a unique medium through which students can explore complex narratives while improving reading comprehension skills. . .”
A spokesperson for the district says that the matter will be reviewed again. If you want to sign the petition, go here.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.