Queens Parents Riled Over Raunchy Sixth-Grade Literature

Am I Blue?Sixth-graders at a Queens school were getting quite an education – in homosexuality, French kissing and cursing – thanks to three books widely available in classroom libraries.
But after numerous complaints from parents at Public School 150 in Sunnyside, the books – a profanity-laced poetry book, short stories about homosexuality and a novel called “First French Kiss” – were pulled from the shelves last week.
Several parents learned of the racy books after overhearing their kids snickering about the sexual themes.
The poem “I Hate School” in a book called “You Hear Me?” includes the rhyme, “Fuck this shit, up the ass. I don’t think I’ll ever pass.”
Another poem compares eating an orange to having sex, while several passages repeatedly use vulgar slang for genitalia. And the book “Am I Blue?” is an anthology of stories about gay teenagers that parents found too adult-themed for 11- and 12-year-olds.
Parent Gladys Martinez wrote a letter to her son’s teacher after hearing him talk about “First French Kiss,” which chronicles a teen’s bumbling first makeout session in a closet.
“I mean, he shouldn’t be sheltered from the world, but if he’s going to learn that stuff, it shouldn’t be at school,” Martinez said.
Parent and leadership team member Michael Novak said the books, which are labeled “young adult” by the New York Public Library, are “material that is totally inappropriate for sixth-graders.”
Principal Carmen Parache said she had not reviewed the books until she received complaints but said they were “definitely inappropriate.” She said classroom materials would be more carefully screened in the future.
“As soon as I saw them, I pulled them and they are no longer in the school,” she said. “This is something that shouldn’t have happened and it will not happen again.”
“You Hear Me?” was suggested for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders by the Columbia University Teachers College’s Reading and Writing Project because it is the only anthology with poems written by minority teenagers, said Lucy Calkins, its founding director.
“It’s a tricky balance to walk so we are putting books in their hands that they’ll want to read,” said Calkins, who had not seen the language in the book.
Ava Myint, 11, said she heard some boys in her class laughing and talking about the books.
“Maybe they’re okay for some kids, but some of the boys are really immature, so maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to read them,” she said.
from The New York Daily News

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