Dori: Kent, Tahoma parents found certain school reading material sexually ‘graphic’ and ‘inappropriate’
Classes may be ramping down for the school year, but middle school reading materials some consider pornographic are just amping up parent pushback among both Kent and Tahoma parents.
In two separate Thursday interviews on The Dori Monson Show, parents described their frustration with school reading materials they call “graphic” and “inappropriate” sexual content aimed at 11- to 14-year-olds. They’re speaking up, the parents told Dori, because it’s important for parents to have a say in their children’s education.
[Warning: some content here may be considered objectionable]
The Kent School District issue involves “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” – a middle school library book depicting a teen columnist who responds to sexual LGBTQ+ scenarios posed by other gay teens.
In Tahoma, the grievance came from parents who discovered their 6th graders were assigned to read poetry with graphic depictions of violent sex, rape, murder, and anal sex.
For the Kent case, the mom interviewed asked Dori not to use her name over her “fear of reprisal” after Wednesday night’s “contentious” school board meeting.
“Any time you get people with strong convictions, you get a place where people are not there to listen and learn, but to listen and attack,” the mom told Dori. “Last night was an excellent example of that.”
For her, “the main argument is not to ban the book,” she explained. “It’s just inappropriate for a middle school audience.”
How inappropriate? To give listeners a sense, Dori read an excerpt the mom calls “one of the more tame scenes in the book:”
“So he bends me over the bed and drizzles some lube on my (deleted). I made him wear a condom. (the book describes an anal sex act). “Wow, that hurts,” the book continues. “I tell him to stop, it hurts and he says he’ll go slower and I say okay because he’s already in and I’m thinking I’m gay, so I have to learn to do it right.”
The Kent mom’s opposition “has nothing to do with the gay theme in this book,” she told Dori’s listeners. “If this was describing a heterosexual encounter, it would be equally outrageous. This isn’t about going after marginalized kids. It’s about what’s appropriate for children in our schools.
This library book creates “a situation where children are not ready for such explicit content,” she continued. “They are not mature enough.”
“I believe LGBTQ kids need books with relatable characters,” the Kent mom continued. “But what are we teaching them? Are we teaching them that it’s okay to go and meet strangers for sex? To do drugs while having sex?”
While the book does address issues around “consent, the benefit of wearing condoms and of trying not to get sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there are several other things that are not safe like meeting strangers for sex or threesomes. . . or (minors) having sex with adults,” she added.
After hours of debate at last night’s meeting, the Kent School Board postponed any decision. The issue will be addressed at a future meeting.
In Tahoma School District, meanwhile, the parent watchdog group Tahoma Parents was successful in convincing the district to remove an online link for poems that depict graphic sexual violence.
Dori credits KTTH host Jason Rantz with originally reporting the story about a Maple View Middle School assignment for 11- and 12-year-olds. The schoolwork required 6th graders to research poems, some of which involve rape, oral sex, and post-sex murder.
Rantz: School assignment sent 6th graders to wildly graphic, sexual poetry
Justin Bryan of Tahoma Parents told Dori that many of the poems meant to inspire students to write their own poetry were so vulgar “I’m probably not allowed to say them on the air due to FCC regulations.”
One link leads 6th graders to an LGBTQ+ Pride Poems section with a June Jordan-written piece: “Poem about My Rights.” An excerpt includes:
[Warning: content here may be considered objectionable]
“and in France, they say if the guy penetrates but does not ejaculate, then he did not rape me and if after stabbing him if after screams if after begging the [expletive] and if even after smashing a hammer to his head if even after that if he and his buddies [expletive] me after that. . .”
Some students and parents of children assigned to read this piece were “obviously freaked out about what they had seen,” Bryan told Dori. The school and teacher have since removed the links from the assignment, he said.
“We’re just a group of concerned parents,” Bryan explained. “We’re just as shocked as you.”
In response to their objections, he continued, district officials told Jason Rantz and the parents that neither the school nor the teacher knew this content was on this site. Tahoma School District also apologized for including the links in the assignment.
“Best case scenario?” Bryan told Dori’s listeners. “The teacher didn’t do their due diligence.”
Is this apology accepted? Dori asked Bryan.
“I do think it’s an honest mistake,” Bryan said. “But they do need to make sure teachers are vetting (assigned materials).”
And for that, Bryan urged Dori’s listeners, there is an important role for parents to play.
“Really pay attention to what your kids are learning in schools,” he said. “There are many great teachers in our schools and I don’t want to bash all teachers. But all it takes is one bad teacher or one bad peer” to damage a child.
You’re not here to be their friend,” Bryan advises. “You’re here to be their parent.”
Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.
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