A Johnston mother made her case against the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” before a district curriculum review committee last week.
While being interrupted multiple times by the opposition, which ended up needing to be lectured by the committee about manners, Mandy Gilbert said many parents didn’t know their children were reading a book glorifying masturbation until they asked their children about it.
Gilbert said nobody is given an opportunity to assess the materials, unless the parent says something. In her case, she communicated with the teacher and was told they’d work with her. Three weeks passed and nothing.
“My daughter transferred to another school,” she said.
She didn’t talk about the book at this level until she transferred because she was embarrassed. Gilbert said the committee told her students weren’t going to talk about the books. She said plenty of students feel uncomfortable about the book.
“A lot of parents didn’t even know their kids read this until they asked them,” she said. “They said ‘of course I didn’t talk to you about this that discusses masturbation.'”
At that point the committee had to ask others to be respectful of people commenting. And engaged in a brief back and forth.
Gilbert said parents have complained about the books previously, but maybe not to this year’s teaching staff.
“One woman’s son said it’s very immature,” she said. “His friend said, ‘boys don’t even talk like this to each other.’ His friend told the teacher to give him an F because he wasn’t going to read it. Another parent has two daughters — a sophomore and a senior. The took was inappropriate for school. They didn’t like how it sexualized girls in the book.”
Gilbert said it isn’t age-appropriate. It uses words like the F-word and the N-word.
“We can’t even put those words on TV but we’re going to give our kids these books,” she said. “Dick, boner, jerk off, erection, pussy, retarded, fag and faggot. We don’t use those words in our home. Teachers should not be giving those books out. Sure, kids do look at porn and they also do drugs. Do educators give them to our kids? No. No. That’s what our role is as a parent at home. Our kids should be able to go to school and get an education without all this.
“Look at this. This is a circus. This is a circus just because I don’t want my kids to read this junk.”
Gilbert said the author of the book has admitted to sexually assaulting 20 women. And his writing shows he is obsessed with over-sexualizing girls.
“Do you want to talk about racism? How about racism of lowered expectations,” Gilbert said. “Lowering curriculum that you have to use a graphic novel to reach our communities of color. What an insult. That is racism that you have to bring things down to only using the F-word 89 times in a book. That’s ridiculous.”
Girls already feel objectified at school, Gilbert said.
“You think they’re going to go to a teacher and say please give me a different book so that they can have this kind of crowd,” she said. “I have at least 10 parents here. And recently, did you know at the high school…”
Gilbert was cut off again due to disruptions from the others in the room.
When she resumed, Gilbert held up a book called Writing and Grammar she is learning from after transferring.
“This is what you’re supposed to be teaching in school,” she said. “This is where they say when kids come in from public schools they lack these skills because they’re so worried about teaching them to use words such as dick, boner, jerk off, erection, pussy, retarded, faggot, masturbate, the F-word and the N-word and, please tell me what charcoal babies means.”
The superintendent told Gilbert that when sexuality discussions arise in school, it is required to give notice to parents.
“So I have to a sign a letter for my kids to hear about penises and vaginas but I don’t have to sign a letter for them to hear about dicks and pussies,” Gilbert said. “This is ridiculous. This isn’t political. This should be something that we can all agree on.”