Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Book Banning You Might Not Expect

So, a school in California has removed a book from the fourth and fifth grade classrooms after concerns were raised that it contained sexually graphic material. The book - the dictionary.
Yes, apparently it was discovered that the word "oral sex" was in the dictionary and the definition states that it is, "oral stimulation of the genitals" (per the linked entry).
Now, I will confess that there was a stage in my life where looking up words about body parts was enough to get me giggling for hours. However, I would argue that the only reason someone would look up oral sex is if they were familiar with the term. (Yes, I suppose an enterprising child might read straight through. If, so they will also discover lots of other words and yay for them.) I think that "oral stimulation of the genitals" is clear without being lascivious and I have to imagine the parents found out because their kids told them which would have been a great opportunity to have a conversation about age appropriate behavior, and sex, which at the very least kids that age should have enough information to combat any misinformation someone tries to give them.
Instead this kid or kids has learned that if you mention the sex word, the book gets taken away. I'm betting they won't mention it again.
PS - I have a Merriam Webster although I'm not particularly brand loyal about dictionaries.
ETA: The dictionary has now been returned and the Toronto Star has five things which is why I like their link best(even if the dictionary is only one of them). Although you will now need parental permission to access the dictionary. Am I the only one reminded of the "Buffy" episode where her mom says takes away the library books concerned that the students might have gotten ideas?