Updated story

Is Chicago Public Schools banning the popular graphic novel "Persepolis" from its schools' libraries and classrooms?

Reports began circulating Thursday that officials in the nation's third-largest school district were directing the 2000 graphic novel, penned by Marjane Satrapi, to be removed from the libraries and classrooms of at least one school in the district.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett explained Friday afternoon, via a statement reported by CBS Chicago, that the district has found the "graphic language and images" of the text -- which is included in the district's seventh graders' Literacy Content Framework -- inappropriate for students of that age. She also denied that the book was ordered removed from the district's school libraries and said the book could be appropriate for students in eighth grade and older but, in the mean time, they have been "temporarily recalled" from classroom libraries and district curricula.

She added, according to DNAinfo Chicago, "We are not banning this book from our schools."

Earlier, per a blog post by former public school teacher and education blogger Fred Klonsky, the principal at Lane Tech College Prep High School reported in an e-mail to the school's staff that he was visited by an instructional support leader for his school's network on Wednesday and was told that he had been directed to remove all copies of the book from the school. The directive was reportedly handed down during a Monday meeting.

"I was not provided a reason for the collection of 'Persepolis,'" the principal wrote in the e-mail.

According to DNAinfo, the reports had inspired a protest, scheduled to take place between 3 and 4 p.m. Friday at Western Avenue and Addison Street.

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement Friday saying they were "surprised" by the reports and noted "the only place we’ve heard of this book being banned is in Iran."

"We understand why the district would be afraid of a book like this-- at a time when they are closing schools--because it’s about questioning authority, class structures, racism and gender issues, the union's financial secretary Kristine Mayle wrote in the statement. "There’s even a part in the book where they are talking about blocking access to education."

Satrapi's autobiographical novel tells the story of her childhood years living in Iran following the Islamic Revolution. It has won numerous awards and was adapted into an Oscar-nominated animated film in 2007.

The Paris-based author herself told the Chicago Tribune Friday that she felt the district's explanation concerning an illustration of a torture scene in the novel in particular was "a false argument."

“It’s shameful,” Satrapi told the paper. “I cannot believe something like this can happen in the United States of America.”

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has filed a FOIA request for all materials related to CPS' "Persepolis" action and expressed "deep concerns" with the district's decision:

"As an institution of democracy and learning, CPS has a responsibility to actively model and practice the ideals of free speech, free thought, and access to information at the heart of our democracy," the ALA's Barbara Jones wrote in a letter addressed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Byrd-Bennett and the Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale Friday.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled "Persepolis" author Marjane Satrapi's name.

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    This 2005 children's book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole, tells the story of two penguins raising a baby penguin in New York's Central Park Zoo. Sounds innocent enough... except for the fact that both penguins were male. Conservative opponents, such as the Focus on the Family Action group, said the book was inaccurate and promoted a political agenda to little kids. The <a href="http://www.ala.org/" target="_hplink">American Library Association</a> reports that "And Tango Makes Three" was the most challenged book of 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most challenged. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.simonandschuster.com/" target="_hplink">Simon & Schuster </a>

  • 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'

    Stephen Chbosky's 1999 coming of age novel details introverted Charlie's first year of high school. Among controversial issues, such as drug use and suicide, the book's coverage of homosexuality landed it third on the <a href="http://www.ala.org/" target="_hplink">American Library Association</a>'s list of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009. Check out the trailer for this fall's film adaptation of the book.

  • 'Running With Scissors'

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  • 'Daddy's Roommate'

    This 1991 children's book, written by Michael Willhoite, is about a young boy whose divorced father now lives with his gay partner. It was one of the first children's books to portray a same-sex relationship in a positive light and shows a normal pairing between the two men and their boy. Consequently, the book has become one of the most challenged books in recent years, with the <a href="http://www.ala.org/" target="_hplink">American Library Association</a> listing it at number 2 in their list of the 100 most challenged books from 1990-1999. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.alyson.com/" target="_hplink">Alyson Books</a>.

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  • 'Maurice'

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    When Walt Whitman published this poetry collection, in 1855, he was fired from his job at the Department of the Interior, it was burned by fellow poets and it was referred to as a "mass of stupid filth." Subsequent editions of the collection were banned by some distributors for obscenity. Along with criticism of the collection's obscenity came some of the first public accusations of Whitman's involvement in gay acts. Photo via <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/leaves-of-grass-walt-whitman/1101605861?ean=9780553211160" target="_hplink">Bantham Classics</a>.

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  • 'Howl and Other Poems'

    When Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was published in 1956, the iconic Beat poem was considered "obscene literature," and U.S. Customs officials seized 520 copies of the poem. "Howl" contained references to illicit drugs and sexual practices, both heterosexual and homosexual. At the obscenity trial, literary experts testified on the poem's behalf. Supported by the ACLU, the California State Superior Court Judge Clayton Horn decided that the poem was of "redeeming social importance," and it went on to become one of the most popular pieces of Beat literature. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100465920" target="_hplink">City Lights</a>.

  • "Luv Ya Bunches"

    This children's novel about four elementary school girls was pulled from Scholastic Book Fairs in 2009. Scholastic asked author Lauren Myracle to edit out some inappropriate language -- "geez," "crap," "sucks," -- and turn one character's lesbian parents straight. Although Myracle was fine with changing the language, she saw nothing offensive about a child having gay parents and wouldn't replace them with a heterosexual couple, so Scholastic didn't accept the book for fear of getting hate mail from parents. <a href="http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6703349.html" target="_hplink">Myracle commented</a>, "Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents, just like Milla. It's not an issue to clean up or hide away... In my opinion, it's not an 'issue' at all. The issue, as I see it, is that kids benefit hugely from seeing themselves reflected positively in the books they read. It's an extremely empowering and validating experience." Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.abramsbooks.com/Books/Luv_Ya_Bunches-9780810942110.html" target="_hplink">Abrams Books</a>.

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    In this children's book, Chloe, a young guinea pig, is afraid that she will lose her uncle's friendship after he marries another man. With its normalization of gay marriage targeted toward young children, "Uncle Bobby's Wedding" was on the American Library Accociation's 2008 <a href="http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged#2001" target="_hplink">most challenged list</a>. Read how one librarian responded to the challenge <a href="http://jaslarue.blogspot.com/2008/07/uncle-bobbys-wedding.html" target="_hplink">here</a>. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399247125,00.html#" target="_hplink">Penguin</a>.

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  • 'The Color Purple'

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  • 'Naked Lunch'

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