Middle School Book Assignment Teaches Kids About Masturbation & Parents Are Furious

WILX News 10

The debate over which books should be banned from academic reading lists is ongoing. But for mothers Shateraka Hampton and Karissa Lott, there is no debate over their son's assigned reading. The two Las Vegas moms started a campaign to get the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie taken off their seventh graders' curriculum after Hampton's son came to her to ask for a definition of the word "masturbate," saying he had seen it in his homework. 

  • In other schools across the country, the book has been banned for explicit content and language, including the "F" and "N" words.

    "It's like '50 Shades of Grey' for kids," Hampton told WILX News 10 of the novel that follows 14-year-old Arnold Spirit, aka "Junior," as he deals with being a poor kid from a Spokane Indian reservation who transfers to a rich white school. The book deals with heavy-hitting topics like alcoholism, racism, and sex in a fish-out-of-water narrative that has won praise in the past, including the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

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  • Hampton isn't impressed with the accolades, instead wondering why her son's charter school assigned the book, when it clearly has explicit content.

    She told the news station that the book has "a naked woman and all this stuff about masturbation. [The school] thought that was appropriate?" And she criticized the school -- Democracy Prep at Agassi Campus charter school -- for allegedly not asking for permission before assigning the novel to students.

    "Not once did [the school] ask us permission to expose our children to his foul language," she charged. "If sex ed requires some type of permission slip, then this should have required some type of permission slip."

  • The school has decided to stand behind the assignment, telling Hampton that the novel teaches kids about racism. And other parents seem to agree.

  • On Facebook, parents argued that only looking at the explicit words misses the larger themes that are important for kids to consider.

  • And others noted their kids have probably seen worse on TV.

  • But not everyone came to the novel's defense. One Facebook user agreed with Hampton and Lott that the book was a problem.

  • And as far as our feelings go, let's take it from our guy Little Finger from "Game of Thrones":

    Would you let your child read a "banned book"?