Tuesday, January 26, 2010

California school district bans dictionary

A California school district banned the Webster's Collegiate dictionary from fourth and fifth grade classrooms because it defines the words "oral sex." A committee of parents and teachers then decided to bring the dictionaries back, but to let parents decide whether their child is to be able to access this dictionary.

I can't get over how far these parental consent issues at school have gone. I don't think it should be up to parents to decide whether their children are allowed to look at a dictionary. I also do not think it should be up to parents to decide whether or not their children should have access to comprehensive and accurate sex education- I think children have the right to this information. There is little that annoys me more than denying people information that they want/need for no reason other than an authority figure doesn't think it is appropriate... why not just present facts and various arguments surrounding them, and teach children to think for themselves?

Nevermind this debate over whether or not it is acceptable for ten year olds to have access to this information, I wonder how many students have actually gone to the dictionary to look up the term "oral sex". I would guess very few of them... although, as punishment for talking in class, I occasionally had to write out dictionary definitions. It would have been slightly uncomfortable (or amusing) had I randomly selected that page... but no more so than with a multitude of other words. It doesn't mean they should be banned from classrooms.

I guess we now need to ban the internet as well. I would much rather my children get information from the dictionary than google... at least I know the stuff in the dictionary has been filtered through various editors to ensure it's accuracy.


  1. I don't have an actual copy of the Webster's dictionary, but their website has the definition of oral sex as oral stimulation of the genitals. My Oxford dictionary defines it as sexual activity in which the genitals of one partner are stimulated by the mouth of the other. I think mine is more graphic than the one that was banned. Also what is the point of putting the word you are looking up in the definition.

    On a side note here are some other interesting things banned in schools:

    -A Massachusetts school banned candy canes because they are "religious items". I missed Jesus sucking on a candy cane in my nativity scene.
    -An Illinois school banned "look-alike drugs" including candy cigarettes, non-alcoholic beer and oregano.
    -Pogs were banned in a Washington,DC school for promoting gambling.
    -A Chicago school banned black, red and white clothing to combat gang related problems. Unfortunatly those are the colors of the Chicago Bulls.
    -A school district in Salt Lake City banned all school clubs so it wouldn't have to permit a gay-student club.
    -A Florida school banned Snow White for children in kindergarten to grade two because of violence.

  2. Did they really ban candy canes? That is sad... and hilarious at the same time. Look-alike drugs I get... I never did like those popeye cigarettes, but oregano? Really? And Snow White is quite violent, but no moreso than the Lion King, Sleeping Beauty or The Little Mermaid. Very interesting

    They also just banned Anne Frank from another school because it had sexual content- I read it as a child and it gave me a whole new perspective on history, which I remember clearly, but I do not remember the sexual part.