School District Bans Dictionaries Over Definitions

merriam-webster-banIt’s hard to imagine anything more educational than a dictionary, so why has a California school district banned them outright?

Oh, those pesky definitions therein.

A cranky parent decided her kid’s dictionary was NSFW – or school – because Merriam Webster’s book contains the definition to the words “oral sex.”

So now they’re out of the classrooms, according to the Press Enterprise, local newspaper for the Menifee Union School District. A district spokeswoman says a review is being done to determine whether it’s age appropriate. Which will include actually looking for other “graphic” content.

In a dictionary?

As a parent who learned all her good old-fashioned sex talk on the school bus, I’ve got to know what’s so “graphic” about a factual, scientific definition. Because if you check out Merriam-Webster’s definition of “oral sex,” it’s defined as “sexual activity that involves stimulating someone’s genitals with the tongue or mouth.”

It’s succinct. Truthful. And if kids are looking up the words “oral sex,” you know they already know a little something about it. What better way to let them get the truth than a reference book? Perhaps you’d prefer they sneak onto the Internet, type the words in and accidentally come up with a real, live example? I’d much prefer my kid read a definition in the dictionary in fifth grade than tried it out for herself.

The notion that a fifth grader has never heard the words is laughable in and of itself, but the idea that they need to be protected from it even worse. Kids need facts and information to advance in the world. Hiding this sort of information away only serves to make it more mysterious – and can lead to more dangerous exploration.

At the risk of proving Godwin’s law, let’s not forget why the Nazis burned books – to deny any chance that people would learn new things that they didn’t agree with.

Do you think dictionaries need to be age appropriate or should parents be making their kids aware they can come to them with questions?

Image: amazon

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