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Angry dad suing school for asking daughter to read Allen Ginsberg ‘gay sex’ poem Howl

Nick Duffy November 20, 2019
Copies of Allen Ginsberg's famous 'Howl' on display at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Calif.

Copies of Allen Ginsberg's famous 'Howl' on display at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Calif. (Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

An angry father is taking legal action after his daughter was assigned the famous beat poem Howl, by Allen Ginsberg.

Brett Cason is suing Steamboat Springs High School in Colorado, claiming his 17-year-old daughter Skylar was “traumatised” by the poem’s explicit references to gay sex.

Angry dad says Allen Ginsberg poem is ‘pornography’.

Cason told Denver7: “I was just blown away… This is not high school material. I mean, we’re talking about a minor. It’s pornography from the 50’s.”

Author Allan Ginsburg.
Author Allan Ginsberg. (Getty)

The school district has apologised to Cason over the “controversial material”, saying parents should have been given “advance notice that would have allowed them to opt their child out of participating”.

It added: “We regret if members of our community were offended.”

Anti-LGBT+ law firm represents dad in lawsuit.

Cason is represented by First Liberty, an evangelical anti-LGBT+ law firm that has long opposed equal rights for gay people.

Jeremy Dys of First Liberty said: “In the age of Harvey Weinstein who has used sexual favours to gain control over women, I don’t understand why Steamboat Springs would even come close to permitting that in their school districts here.”

He added: “It is off the list, beyond triple-X rated… if you’re going to teach on controversial materials – you’re doing that with the full blessing of the parents.

“It is not their prerogative to make that decision for every parent in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. That violates federal law, and they need to be held accountable for it.”

Censorship of the poem is nothing new.

In 1957, US customs officials seized 520 copies of the poem being imported from London on obscenity grounds.

A San Francisco bookstore manager was arrested months later for selling the poem to an undercover police officer, alongside its publisher.

The case led to a high-profile obscenity trial, which ended with a victory for free speech when a judge ruled that the poem was not obscene.

More: allen ginsberg, Colorado, first liberty, Howl

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