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School district gets heat for banning dictionary over 'oral sex' definition. What do you think?

Merriam-Webster 10th Annual Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition picture

Talkbackla The decision by a Riverside County school district to pull dictionaries from school shelves because it includes the term "oral sex" has been generating national debate.

The Menifee Union School District took the action last week after a parent complained about the Merriam-Webster's 10th edition

This is the definition: "Main Entry: oral sex Function: noun Date: 1973 : oral stimulation of the genital."

"It's just not age-appropriate," school spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the Press-Enterprise. "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature."

The district is getting some heat (check out this critique on Witness L.A.).

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Comments () | Archives (91)

A printed dictionary? What's that? Chances are if I'm school aged I'm not going to be checking my references in some archaic instrument like a printed dictionary where I have to manually look up the word...not with hundreds of thousands of more accurate and fleshed out descriptions available online at the click of a button!

As for the parent who complained: turn of the tv, get of the couch and do something more productive with your time. You must really be hellbent on accomplishing your lifes mission of complaining if you have to resort to scouring the dictionary used in your childs classroom to uncover any potential wrongdoing. You should probably be a little more concerned about the lifelong problems you're likely inflicting upon your child as I bet you make them feel shamed and evil for basic bodily functions too.

Thank God for the internet!

Wow, what's next? Mass book burnings? When are our children supposed to learn about sex? After they're having babies because nobody taught them about the birds and the bees. This is getting ridiculous, when are parents gonna learn their high school aged kids most likely already know the definition of Oral Sex and have probably experienced it as well. Now if this was in an elementary or middle school, then I could see there being a problem. In this day and age of mass communication through digital technology, there is no shielding our kids from the world. An informed person is better equipped to handle life than an uninformed one.

Who's that bored to pick up a dictionary looking for graphic texts?

I bet that the individual components of oral sex might be found elsewhere but maybe the overly excited parent can spell those words. The parent should get a life.

The chances of a child "stumbling across" that specific definition are slim. And if they're looking it up, that probably means they've already heard of it. Get over it.

I am so hopping mad. No one knew the meaning of the term " oral sex" until Clinton became president. No one ever performed it either until he gave the world the idea. I had hoped that everyone would forget about this sordid act and it would just go away. And now it's in the dictionary!! Our society is ruined now that this definition is in the dictionary. God help us!

I moved to California from a Michigan country school in 1963. In my country school we played softball and had snow fights. In my new school the 7th graders had sex in the orange groves and douched with a shaken up coke. I don't think California kids are going to be shocked----or learn anything new----from reading that entry. It's insane to think that the Merriam Webster dictionary is not good enough for schools. Will the school system go with an inferior dictionary that has the "right" religious message? What if the evangelically approved dictionary has definitions that offend unbelievers? This is really pretty silly and it's bound to result in the school district getting egg on their faces. They haven't burned any books yet, but can it be far behind?

As a retired teacher of 40 years in Riverside, I agree completely with all the comments saive the one about voting GOP and liberals running the schools. Liberals don't run the schools as is evidenced in Menifee.
Administrators for the most part are hard working people. It's the people who run the district (school board) who set the tone along with the Superintendent. I had an administrator who said, "The Bill of Rights stops at the school house door." She had not read the decision of Tinker v. School Board. I had two school board members in Riverside Unified School District ask me if a DNA sequencer could clone sheep like Dolly? In the year 2001! I remember when Doc Gardner of the Riverside County School Board was concerned about the books in the public library and said, "Where there's smoke there is fire and the color of the fire is RED." Remember Sheriff Joe Rice of Riverside County who conducted his own McCarthy witch hunt.
Fortunately, the sane people laugh at all this as most of the writers here have done and show the fool for what she is.

Well Bad YOU!!! I was reading newspapers at age 6. But, living near farms, I also knew about -- but was not at all interested in -- sex. Kids learn about sex from other kids unless they get the information from adult sources. Too bad we Puritanical Americans can't cope with reality. Accurately knowing about sex does not necessarily lead to sexual behavior among our youth. Learning about a new "really fun thing" does lead to errant sexual activity among our young.

I just googled "oral sex" and found stuff that makes me go YUCK, and I am a middle aged, married, non-prude male. Most kids have access to the internet and can google it just like I did and dictionaries can be found in almost any library or bookstore. Exactly what do these fools think they will accomplish, besides encouraging every child in the district to look up "oral sex" online and in any dictionary they can find? And if Ms. Cadmus thinks "oral stimulation of the genitals" is graphic, then she must have been living in one strange convent. Seriously, though, if anyone has video of the school board's deliberations that led to this bizarre decision, please post it. It must be a fascinating example of groupthink.

So, these "educators" are going to ban such an important book because of one definition? Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees!

These "educators" need to grow up!!

It's outrageous to think that a mere description of the human anatomy and sexual activity is somehow corrupting. How is it Americans are afraid of biology and academically-listed sensuality, yet we tolerate all the other junk out there? Maybe we should actually spend time with children to teach them about life so they are armed with knowledge given by school educators and their parents instead of watered-down rumors and peer misinformation.

Why is it we always react to something in this way. A parent finding it offensive that "Oral Sex" is in the Collegiate Dictionary becomes an act of removing these books from the school. Lets look closer at the parent making the complaint and the school system for actually acting on it. These are the people educating our children.

These people are LAMENTABLE cowards. When each member of that school board comes to the hour of death, I will make each one of them sign a statement reading as follows: "For the schoolchildren and citizens of my district, my life set an example of cowardice."

And to think that only last Thursday, at the annual State of the City luncheon, Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge spoke optimistically about Riverside's future...and a forward-thinking agenda for the area's future that he titled "Seizing Our Destiny"! Destiny, indeed. Thanks to the hayseeds in Menifee, the Inland Empire has just taken giant steps back...into the age
of Puritanism.

Who are these ridiculous adults who are afraid of words??!! I want to scream when people make a huge deal out of absolutely nothing and then turn it into something absurd. Instead of teaching our children about how to make right and wrong decisions by being informed we'd rather close our eyes and ears and hope that it will happen all by itself - avoidance, what a great parenting technique!

Total waste of money.

Funny how the Los Angeles Times seeks to stoke left wing "outrage" over a non-story like this one.

The dictionary was to be banned in elementary school- not 6th grade up.

The Los Angeles Times regulary spikes stories or obscures the facts on those that contradict it's leftis views. They refuse to use the term "illegal Alien" for example.

The LA Times did not reveal who the Chatsworth Metrolink driver was obsesivelly text messaging ( under age teen boys) when he killed about 30 innocent people. Why not?

Why does the Times insist on protecting certain favored groups( violent illegal aliens, homosexuals) and deriding, mocking and simply distorting facts to destroy those groups it opposes ( such a Christians, Conservatives, Conservative Christians etc..)- Is this appropriate?

"Too many damn liberals running the schools in this state!! Vote right--vote Republican--vote against incumbants!!"

Menifee is a very religious town and very Republican. This one you can't pin on the liberals!

Has Betti Cadmus or anyone else on the Menifee Union board of education ever actually USED their brain(s)? If the parents of school children in Riverside County don't do something soon, their children will grow up as stupid as the administrators in their district.

Age appropriate? Is the dictionary called "Merriam Webster's Children's Dictionary" Betti Cadmus needs to take a ride on that Delorean from Back To The Future because she's a little behind the times. Maybe "oral sex" isn't appropriate for Betti's age. Kids don't even open books anymore, let alone dictionaries, they can find out anything they want on the internet, and even get graphic details. The Menifee Union School District should have taxpayer dollars spent on educating the children rather than paying someone to find things to be censored. The One parent who probably knows nothing about what his/her own child is up to and brought up the whole inappropriate word search should be educated also...

So, the mother complaining about all of this. Just what was she doing looking for the definition of oral sex? "Age appropriate". One of those new touchy feely words. Grow up America. People have oral sex. Try being a parent and sit down with your children and educate them. Just maybe they won't end up pregnant at 14 or end up getting Hepatitis or AIDs. Part of being a parent is teaching your children so they can face the world on their own terms. You want to hide them in the dark so they have no clue what goes on outside your pristine walls. The best weapon you as a parent has is "education". Try it.

Maybe if we pretend it's not there, it'll go away! After all, that approach has worked so well for teen pregnancy.

The height if idiocy. A parody of itself.

Any and all school board officials involved in this decision should be immediately fired. Local citizens, get your pitchforks.

I remember many years ago, as a middle school student (jr. high, back then), my classmates and I would go to the public library and sneak a look at 'hell' and 'damn' in the dictionary. Every last one of us was corrupted beyond belief.

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