Paradise Valley Unified School District’s Porn-Filled Book Assignment Nothing New

books

While the recent incident of an obscene book being assigned to a high schooler for a summer reading list is disconcerting at best and a breach of community trust, sadly it is nothing new.

My first experience with sexually graphic teen/adolescent novels was during my daughter’s sophomore year in high school in the early 2000s. The mother of one of her classmates called with concerns about a book being read in the first semester English class (thankfully my daughter didn’t have English until second semester). Her daughter was having trouble including requisite quotes from the book as all the relevant quotes included the F-word.

The title of the book, if I’m not mistaken, was Running; I do not recall the author. It was a novel about a high school athlete severely injured, paralyzed, during a football game. Aside from the uncountable number of F-bombs and other curse words (language which, by the way, would get students disciplined if overheard being used in the hallways – at least back in those days!) there was a very explicit scene of the bedridden student fantasizing about having sex with his teacher! I couldn’t help but wonder how any teacher, male or female, would conduct a class discussion of THAT chapter. And what about the girls in the class?

My next experience was as a member of the Peoria Unified School District governing board. During a visit to Centennial H. S. I had an opportunity to peruse the shelves of the school library. I came across a book entitled Running with Scissors. I borrowed it thinking I was going to get a lighthearted biography of comic singer Weird Al Yankovic. Was I ever in for a surprise or rather a shock! Instead I was reading very graphic, very dark depiction of child abandonment, abuse and so much worse. A story when turned into a movie was rated “R – Restricted under 17 not admitted without parent or adult guardian.” Yet in a government school it was being handed to 14- and 15-year-olds without parents’ knowledge or consent.

Common Core brought Dreaming in Cuban and The Bluest Eyes books of which excerpts I would show but not read aloud to parents but were being read by our high schoolers. In addition to pornographic books, such as So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed assigned in Paradise Valley USD, our children are exposed to “graphic novels.” These days instead of reading classic literature that has stood the test of time such as, oh, um … Shakespeare, they read glorified comic books with adult, sexual stories lines and graphic drawings such as Kill Shakespeare.

But it’s not just high schoolers nor is it just sexuality. There are books about transsexuals, drag queens but also books about environments agendas, COVID quarantines and “police brutality” for early elementary and even preschool children. It’s not about “book burning.” It is about age and content appropriateness – something, in too many cases, teachers and administrators are apparently unable to determine.

And don’t think it is just in the classroom or school library. Many of these … questionable … novels can be checked out of the Maricopa County Library District by children with a library card and downloaded as e-books directly to their phones. Will their parents ever even know?

A.R.S. 15-102 mandates a governing board to develop policies and procedures for parents to learn about a course of study and review materials, withdraw their children from “harmful” materials, opt-in to sex education, be given advance notice and opt their children in to any sexuality content in any classes other than sex ed. The problem is when these requirements are not adhered to by the teachers or administrators there are not consequences in statute.

So what is a parent to do? Begin by requesting a course syllabus from every one of your children’s teachers; including the titles of all supplement reading which will be assigned. Then get those books and, if you don’t read them yourself, at the very least skim through them. So often the publishers’ descriptions of these books do not accurately reflect the contents and the more radical and sexual the content, generally, the more raves the book gets from book reviewers – especially if the book is directed at children. Know your district’s procedures for reviewing materials and opting your children in to sexual content.

I strongly recommend Between the Covers: What’s Inside a Children’s Book by Deborah DeGroff to understand what and why our children are being inundated with literature that encourages rather than discourages vices and bad behavior; that take the molding of a child’s character and values out of the hands of parents. Her articles at www.whatsinsidechildrensbooks.com include valuable information about the most current releases in children’s, youth and young “adult” books.

Remember, God given children not government bureaucracies – not matter how well-intended they profess to be. Only you can protect your child(ren).

About Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction 2015-2018 27 Articles
Diane Douglas is an American politician and educator expert, who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2015-2019. She was elected on November 4, 2014. Douglas succeeded then-incumbent John Huppenthal, whom she defeated for the party's nomination in the Republican primary on August 26, 2014.