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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)

What's next? A book-burning? Those were quite popular in Berlin, circa 1939. I am sure during their search for age-inappropriate words they'll score big - it's a dictionary after all. Is it me, or does anyone else think these administrators must have way too much time on their hands? Wow.

What about the word Oral and the word Sex are those still in there?
They might be bright enough if they're good at math to put two and two together?
What if you take it out of the dictionary google it?
They might get far worse than a written definition.
Maybe we should censor google too?

Well our kids know all about it and they didn't get it from Webster's. Good Luck with that Riverside County.

To Menifee Union School District:
Get a life!

I have to disagree with Chris. There are "age appropriate" dictionaries, as there should be. MacMillan has dictionaries for 5-8 year olds, 8-12 and a dictionary for middle school students, and so on.
Whether or not some students already know what oral sex means isn't the point.
David, collegiate is defined as "of or pertaining to college"...so, you're right, if it says it right on the cover then it doesn't belong in a k-12 school.

Ridiculous. This is in the top ten reasons why America gets laughed at by the rest of the world. I've been to Menifee. They could use as much reading as possible, dictionaries and otherwise.

If our educators are this ignorant then it's no wonder our schools are doing so poorly. They need to stop putting their drive for political correctness ahead of common sense.

If it is a standard dictionary, then it should have the term in it. If the school wants a dictionary without adult terms in it, they should find an 'age-appropriate' dictionary for on-campus use.

This is absolutely ridiculous! Children are much better than adults in consulting the web. Who would think that they wouldn't know the meaning of that phrase? Being a prude and not prudent anymore in this day and age. Wake up people.....

Re:Betty Cadmus' statement that the definition for oral sex in the Mirriam Websters dictionary is not "age appropriate" shows in my opinion a lack of intelligence. It is the fear of having children read and hear these terms that leads to children experimenting in sex with negative results. I have worked with middle school children for several yrs helping with the sex ed classes. I am no longer surprised when the kids know the crude definitions of oral sex and not the correct ones. Reading the definition in a dictionary is very helpful and crucial so kids know not only correct sex terms but also start learning about safety in sexual activiities. I would much rather prefer hearing a child know the correct definition rather than saying things like "giving head", "blowing", or "going down". Give need to be treated as the young intelligent people they are and not the sheltered fragile things we with they would be.

How incredibly stupid! Like someone can't look it up on Google? Ban a book as important as the dictionary because one term isn't "age appropriate"? This is 1840's thinking with 21st century doublespeak terminology. You can't keep people, even young people (especially young people!) from learning by removing access to something you want them to use to learn! We've taken a giant step backward if anyone thinks they can control what someone thinks or wonders about by attempting to control a book that simply defines words, even words they don't like. I Google'd the term and got this: Results 1 - 10 of about 28,700,000 for oral sex [definition]. (0.15 seconds) . Go ahead, try and ban that.

I am so disappointed that anyone would or could ban a dictionary. IT IS A DICTIONARY. The purpose is to aid individuals finding definitions to words and terms. I can't believe someone could find a DICTIONARY offensive. This is a perfect example of why public school is failing. The parent who took offense and the administrators that made the final decision to ban the dictionary should be embarrassed by their petty and small-minded behavior.

girls need to learn somewhere, their should be diagrams and some how to do it right they could file it under how to get a husband or keep one.

Two words: Riverside County.

As a teacher, I feel kids focus too much attention on sex. Trash the dictionaries. Provide a list of vocabulary words that will help them finish high school and plan successful lives. 90% of the grades I just issued are F's because the kids weren't interested in music.

OMG!! Are these people serious? It is only the definition of a word.....are they going to ban everything that might contain a bad word? Why not just keep the kids at home......hey have the kids look up "prude" "stupid" "senseless" "frigid" "repressed" ...oooohh better not...frigid might be to sexual in nature....better black out "penis' & 'vagina" as well.....do some people have nothing better to do....

LOL! :-) After publishing the detailed definition of "Oral Sex" in this article, the necessity to pull the dictionaries off the shelves no longer necessary.
I think even after "going wide scope" with this definition (making sure the "oral sex" goes beyond the library shelves), we should keep the dictionaries where they are. Kids should stick with this educated definition, rather than the vulgar one they're using.
The human stupidity doesn't have limits, indeed... Thank you for giving me moments of fun.

Betty Cadmus, and the school board I bet is doing the same things themselves;but it does not want anyone to know. These people need to get a life, and need to stop trying to run someone else life.

If they read about sex, next they'll talk about it and next they'll try it.

Oh, please. Kids today know the street terms for sex acts before they get out of grade school. Kids today not only know the words, many are sexually active. This comes off as a prudish move, a stupid move, and an ignorant move. Don't they know kids will pick up the dictionary just because of this story? Believe me, very few kids would ever look up oral sex in a dictionary, but this move will inspire them. Perhaps that's a good thing.

When I worked in a middle school, the kids talked about having oral sex. Do the authorities think that the kids even have to even look it up in the dictionary??? Is this for real????

Of course, leave it up to the backward, ultra-conservative people from Rivertucky. Hopefully they're just doing this to stop the local r-necks from procreating (we can only hope). But this is really a whopper. And what kind of parent browses a dictionary looking for this stuff? Who really cares. The reason kids are engaging in sex so early is because we try so hard to shelter them from it. When you tell a kid "no" to something, what do they go and do? They do exactly what you told them not to do. It's human nature and curiosity. If these parents think their kids don't know all about sex than they're living in the past. Anyway, let the Rivertucky people do what they want.

Just a brief comment to all those prudes and conservatives that blame President Clinton for the fact that oral sex was in the news heavily during the Lewinsky debacle.
What President Clinton did was engage in oral sex, something that 99.9% of all normal adults do. Furthermore, he kept it private, as 99.9% of normal adults do.
It was of course the REPUBLICAN smear machine that put it on the evening news, not the President, in their attempt to gain political advantage. Surely he would have been happy to keep his private act private, as would the rest of us normal adults. Of course, no one in their right mind would accuse conservatives of being "normal", thus their rabid interest in the President's private life, and their tactic of gaining political status not by doing anything positive, but rather by tearing down their opponent.
Not surprising that the school district involved here is very conservative.
As if anyone needed any more proof of how ridiculous conservatives are.

My favorite quote of the day. ""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.""

And my new vocabulary: "double plus unsmart."

This is really so ridiculously laughable. These are the people we want educating our children?

And the parents who complained- if you want your children to be restricted from accessing information you might want to find a nice conservative religious school. Real school is supposed to be about access to education.

And anyone dumb enough to think that liberals would come up with this has clearly not heard that intellectualism and liberalism go hand in hand. Scroll up to the comment by the teacher who wants to hand select your kids vocabulary- that's not liberalism, it's fascism- extreme right wing authoritarian rule.

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