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Oral sex' definition prompts dictionary ban in US schools


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Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for "oral sex".

Merriam Webster's 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the "sexually graphic" entry is "just not age appropriate", according to the area's local paper.

The dictionary's online definition of the term is "oral stimulation of the genitals". "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.

While some parents have praised the move – "[it's] a prestigious dictionary that's used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern," said Randy Freeman – others have raised concerns. "It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground," father Jason Rogers told local press. "You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next, pull encyclopaedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?"

A panel is now reviewing whether the Menifee ban will be made permanent. The Merriam Webster dictionary joins an illustrious set of books that have been banned or challenged in the US, including Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, which last year was suspended from and then reinstated to the curriculum at a Michigan school after complaints from parents about its coverage of graphic sex and violence, and titles by Khaled Hosseini and Philip Pullman, included in the American Library Association's list of books that inspired most complaints last year.


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Dictionaries with term 'oral sex' to be re-shelved

10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PDF: Read Menifee schools’ statement on dictionaries at Oak Meadows Elementary School

MENIFEE - Dictionaries pulled last week from the shelves of a Menifee elementary school will be put back, an official said this afternoon.

Superintendent Linda Callaway read a statement at today's Menifee Union School District board meeting reporting that a committee reviewing the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary had completed its work.

The dictionary, and an alternative dictionary, will be available to fourth- and fifth-graders, the committee decided.

"Parents will be given the option to determine whether or not they wish their child to have access to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary," Callaway said in her statement.

Officials said today the dictionary in question was only in use at Oak Meadows Elementary School. The district pulled the books from shelves last week after an Oak Meadows Elementary School parent complained about a child stumbling across definitions for "oral sex."


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"It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground," father Jason Rogers told local press.

The type of thinking against words in dictionaries makes me believe that the dark corners are full of people closing their eyes and plugging their ears to the every day world, living in the stone-ages of society. Kids won't be hearing the phrase, 'oral sex' on the playground. They'll be hearing, 'blow job', or 'doggie-style'; the kind of phrases that aren't found in a dictionary. Maybe if parents would focus their efforts on teaching safe-sex, things like what they find in the dictionary would be helpful to educate them. Stupid parents.

While I'm glad the books have been re-shelved, there is little doubt that 'the good fight' will not end.

Edited by ShadowDog
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