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Sherlock Holmes Book Axed From 6th Grade Reading Lists After Anti-Mormon Claims


“...the best book I have read so far.”

A Virginia county has decided to remove Sherlock Holmes' first adventure from sixth-grade reading lists after its contents were deemed inappropriate and offensive to Mormons.

Brette Stevenson, a parent of a Henley Middle School student, had complained that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” is derogatory toward Mormons.

Following a study conducted by a special commission and two board discussions regarding the matter, the Albemarle County School Board voted Thursday night to remove the book. The committee commissioned to study the novel said in a report that it's not age-appropriate for sixth-graders.

One of the board members, Diantha McKiel, said that it was important to remember that this isn't the first time the school system has reconsidered a book. She explained, "Sometimes we have declared books age inappropriate, sometimes we have decided that they should stay where they are."

Still, not everyone was happy with the decision to remove the book from reading lists. The Daily Progess has more:

More than 20 former Henley students turned out to oppose the book’s removal from the lists. Rising Western Albemarle High School ninth-grader Quinn Legallo-Malone spoke during public comment to oppose removal of the book. He called the work “the best book I have read so far.”

The book includes a flashback to 1847 Utah that recounts the actions of a Mormon community when a non-Mormon man wants to marry the daughter of one of its members. The USA Today highlights the controversial text (from Chapter 3 of the book):

(John Ferrier) had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in the Land of the Saints.

In its classroom application, “A Study in Scarlet” has been used to expose and introduce students to the mystery genre. Because of its focus on religion, Stevenson told the board that she worries that the text gives students an "inaccurate introduction to an American religion." Stevenson said she's pleased with the decision and suggested that Doyle's fifth novel, "The Hound of the Baskervilles," be offered as a replacement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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