Dictionary Too Racy for School

School district bans Merriam-Webster for defining 'oral sex'

By John Adams
|  Monday, Jan 25, 2010  |  Updated 6:41 AM PDT
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A school pulls dictionaries off shelves for defining "oral sex."

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A Riverside County school district pulled dictionaries off the shelves because it included the term "oral sex."

A parent complained when an elementary school student stumbling across the term in the Merriam-Webster's dictionary, and Menifee Union School District officials decided to ensure that wouldn't happen again, according to The Press-Enterprise.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus to the newspaper. 

"It's just not age appropriate," Cadmus said.

The dictionaries were purchased just a few years ago for the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms. And this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

Some other parents didn't agree with the decision to remove the dictionary.

"Censorship in the schools, really?" parent Emanuel Chavez said to The Press-Enterpirse. "If the kids are exposed to it, it's up to the parents to explain it to them at their level."

The district board is still hotly debating the dictionary ban and the possibility of additional book bans.

"If we're going to pull a book because it has something on oral sex, then every book in the library with that better be pulled," school board member Rita Peters told the newspaper. "The standard needs to be consistent ... We don't need parents setting policy."

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