Banned Books 2023 – Looking for Alaska

Marshall University does not ban books! The information is provided to let people know what has been banned/challenged elsewhere.


Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for being sexually explicit.

A formal request for the reconsideration of Looking for Alaska was submitted to a Virginia School District, alleging the book was pornographic. The review committee recommended retaining the book in the school library, however the principal overrode their decision and had the title withdrawn.

Looking for Alaska was one of 76 titles challenged at the Davis School District (UT) by the pressure group Utah Parents United. While 33 of the challenged titles were withdrawn, Looking for Alaska remains under review at the time of this writing.


A group called Purple for Parents Indiana posted on Facebook that the Bremen (IN) School District had two “obscene” books in the high school library: Looking For Alaska by John Green, and All the Rage by Courtney Summers. They urged parents to contact them for more information. Status of the titles is unknown.

A written challenge was submitted to the School District Of Manawa (WI). The complaint stated that Looking for Alaska contains sexually explicit encounters in detail, bad language, and normalizes dishonesty, hazing, underage drinking, and smoking. The book was retained.

A group of parents distributed flyers containing excerpts and illustrations from this and other books at a meeting of the Rockwood (MO) School District Board. After the meeting, they submitted requests for reconsideration of This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, The Haters by Jesse Andrews, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton, Heroine by Mindy McGinnis, and The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson, claiming the books were pornographic. A review committee of two teachers, two librarians, a curriculum coordinator, a school board member, four parents, and two high school students voted to retain all challenged titles. However, The Breakaways was restricted to students in fourth grade and up.


A parent of an honors student in Clinton (NC) English II class complained about the alleged pornography and vulgar language of Green’s YA novel at a public board meeting of the school district. While not asking for the removal of the book, he did seek parental notification of reading selections, and the ability to opt-out. School officials followed their reconsideration process and the book was retained. A parent of an 8th-grade student at Galileo STEM Academy (Boise, ID) complained to school administrators about Green’s YA novel. Sidestepping district policy and precedent, administrators withdrew the title from all middle schools. According to a school spokesperson, “there’s description of pornography, there’s smoking, and the book ends with a kind of question about a possible suicide. Even the author says it’s really intended for high school students.” Withdrawn.


Challenged, but retained at the Marion County High School in Lebanon (KY). Planning to use the novel in her senior English class, the teacher sent home permission slips so parents would have the option to keep their child from reading the book. One parent accepted the offer for her child to leave the room during those lessons. That parent, however, didn’t want other children discussing it either and filed a challenge against Green’s novel, igniting an overwhelming show of support for the book from students, alumni, community members – and even Green himself. This coming-of-age story traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager, who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the “Great Perhaps.”


Challenged, but retained in the Lumberton Township (NJ) middle school despite a parent questioning its “sexual content.”


Challenged, but retained in the Waukesha (WI) South High School despite claims the book is “too racy to read.”


Challenged in the Verona (NJ) High School curriculum because a parent found the sexual nature of the story inappropriate.


Banned as required reading for Sumner County (TN) schools because of “inappropriate language.”


Challenged as required reading for Knox County (TN) High Schools’ Honors and as Advanced Placement outside readings for English II because of “inappropriate language.” School Superintendent Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr. said that a parent identified this as an issue and the book was removed from the required reading list. He didn’t say whether the book was still in the schools.


Challenged, but retained for the 11th grade Regents English classes in Depew (NY) despite concerns about graphic language and sexual content. The school sent parents a letter requesting permission to use the novel and only 3 students were denied permission.


Challenged, but retained for the 11th grade Regents English classes in Depew (NY) despite concerns about graphic language and sexual content. The school sent parents a letter requesting permission to use the novel and only 3 students were denied permission.

On These Pages

A Banned book has been removed from a library, classroom, etc.
A Challenged book has been requested to be removed from a library, classroom, etc.

For additional information contact

Ron Titus,

Last updated

August 21, 2023