No Sex Please! We’re Just Kids!

Perhaps it’s not that surprising that a mother in Menifee, California, asked the Menifee Union School District to ban all copies of the 10th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary after her child stumbled across the term “oral sex.” What is surprising, indeed horrifying, is that district officials immediately complied with her request, and pulled all dictionaries off classroom shelves throughout the Southern California school district, which serves 9,000 kids, kindergarten through eighth grade.

District officials said on Friday that they are forming a committee to consider a permanent classroom ban of the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. District spokeswoman Betti Cadmus said that school officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the “sexually graphic” entry. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said. (Isn’t that just what those fourth and fifth graders like to do?!)

Apparently some parents and free-speech advocates believe that district officials are overreacting. No kidding! Let’s put this in perspective: every year, public schools across the country receive hundreds of requests from parents, public officials and activists to remove books they consider inappropriate. Between 1990 and 2008, the American Library Association logged more than 9,600 requests to take books away from library shelves, summer reading lists and school classrooms. Most of these challenged books remain on the shelves.

Parents have every right to complain if they disapprove of a particular book assigned to their child. But for the district to pull those dictionaries without consulting parents, teachers, or the school board is not only ludicrous, it is also wrong. Here’s the District’s Mission Statement: “The Mission of the Menifee Union School District in partnership with students, families, and the changing, diverse Menifee Valley communities is to develop lifelong learners with the skills, knowledge, and desire to be respectful, compassionate, responsible, and contributing citizens by providing a high-quality education in a
nurturing, challenging learning environment in which all children are empowered to reach their full potential.”  

What kind of partnership exists if one mother has the power to empty bookshelves of dictionaries? It seems that the district has acted in a way that entirely goes against what it claims that it sets out to do. And how on earth can this be a “challenging learning environment” where students can “reach their full potential” if they are denied access to the most basic reference material?

As Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition says “common sense seems to be lacking in this school.”

San Jose Library Photostream - Creative Commons
Judy Molland


Nimue P.

Good grief.

Nimue P.

Good grief.

Eva Chu
Eva Chu2 years ago

What is this?! Seriously! I have a hard time understanding how anyone could consider a DICTIONARY a threat! There's nothing wrong with sex! To say that sex is wrong is the same as saying babies are wrong! Honestly, I'm appalled!!!

Rather than banning a DICTIONARY (I can't get over this!) the parent should've taken the opportunity to communicate and educate her child. Not plug in the kid's ears and hope that would make him/her forget. One, it's not going to work, two, it'll mess up the kid's conception of sex.

Lastly, let's not forget. It was a collegiate dictionary. By the time a person gets to college, they need to be well informed about sex and people's behaviour around that.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago

When I was a child, books and films for children didn't contain any sex, and love was presented in an innocent, non-suggestive way. About two years ago, I was shocked to see a movie on TV which was supposed to be a fairytale for kids aged seven or more. There was one scene in which the princess kissed the prince in such a sensual way that in my time such a film would have been allowed for audiences aged sixteen or older (if not for adults above eighteen), but surely not for kids.

Ray McIntyre

It is a crock of plant-growth enhancer and it doth stink so that none can stand it! :D

Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago

This is ridiculous

JACarlton Author
jill c.2 years ago

idiocy reigns.... people like this moronic mother make me absolutely ill!

faux puritanism is alive and well, protesting in front of abortion clinics and pulling the dictionary out of schools... what's next?

are they going to pull the dic- out of tionary because one of their precious, miraculously, virginally conceived children might snicker at the use of the syllable 'dic'... heaven forfend! why don't we just sew their mouths and eyes shut,and stuff their ears with wax...

"...put on your eye shades, put in your ear plugs... you know where to put the cork..."

- The Who - Tommy

Justin Kidd
Justin Kidd2 years ago

The function of a dictionary is to list the words in a language, indicate their pronunciation, provide an etymology if possible, and offer a definition indicating its usage. Labeling the entry as colloquial, pejorative, dialect, obscene, or profane is common but not absolutely NECESSARY.

Many words that exist in English are words that do not enter speech other than in technical conversation. It is unlikely that a curious adult (if such a thing exists) would look up "parsec" in a dictionary, but a 14-year-old reading a clean (i.e. no sex) science-fiction story might want to know just how many miles there are in a "parsec." A seventh-grader might want to know how to make the sound of the letter "x" when it stands first in a proper name, as in the Biblical spelling of the Persian king Xerxes.

Of course, no God-fearing American parent would ever be at all curious about such things; we have learned, by the time we grow up, that it is rude crude and socially unacceptable to ask fool questions or use big words.

Marc P.
Marc P.2 years ago

Without good old Miriam Webster how WILL kids learn what oral sex is????

Juli Kring
Juli Kring2 years ago

When I was a little kid, a friend & I looked up "dirty words" in the dictionary. We found the word bastard and bitch ! Yeeaaahhhh ! Wild times, wild times. We were such little rascals. I know this might seem boring to a younger generation, but this was before the internet so we had to find our own fun. And you know what? I think we were all the better off for it.
Ah, memories.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about?