Who Bans Books About the Holocaust?

Twitter is losing its mind over a school board’s decision to ban Maus

Dr. Casey Lawrence
6 min readJan 31, 2022


Maus, by Art Spiegelman, was recently banned by a school board in Tennessee

Since the release of the McMinn County Board of Education’s meeting minutes, Twitter has been (rightfully) losing their minds over the decision to remove Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus from the eighth grade curriculum. The Tennessee-based school board heard a motion to remove Maus from the reading list and voted 10–0 in favor of banning the book despite being most schools’ only text approved in this age group for teaching the Holocaust.

While supporters of the ban note that the school board intends to “replace” the text on the curriculum, a worrying exchange recording in the meeting’s minutes reveal that not only is no other Holocaust text currently under consideration, but they currently “don’t know what it’s going to take to find an alternative” to Maus. When the question was raised what would happen if no suitable replacement could be found, it was determined that it “would probably mean we would have to move on to another module,” meaning, there would be no module on the Holocaust taught that year.

The reasons for banning this highly influential text on the Holocaust are pedantic at best and, at worst, covering up a systemic problem of historical erasure in American education. The reasons gives are the presence of violence (in a Holocaust memoire!), “rough, objectionable language” amounting to exactly eight ‘curse words,’ and “nudity.” The nudity in question is mostly of mice. Yes, mice. The book is an allegorical rendering of the Holocaust depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats.

Two panels from Art Spiegelman’s Maus, depicting “nudity” among mice in a Nazi concentration camp

The nudity deemed “offensive” and inappropriate for eighth grader readers (aged 13/14) is a tiny, hand-drawn depiction of a woman in the bath and of a line of mice in line for the gas chambers. There is no anatomical correlation between the mice and humans — the naked woman in the bath, Spiegelman’s mother, does not have visible genitalia.

“You have to really, like, want to get your sexual kicks by projecting on it,” Spiegelman said, suggesting the



Dr. Casey Lawrence

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.