A book that contains masturbation, inappropriate language, and mocks religion, is required reading in a freshman English class at Century High School.
“The Absolutely True-Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, is described by Wikipedia as “written from the perspective of a 14-year-old Native American teenager and who leaves the Spokane Indian Reservation for a nearly all-white public high school”. The novel gushes over the pleasures of masturbation for nearly two pages and is littered with sexually explicit content and vulgar language.
Under a page with the heading “Naked woman + right hand = happy happy joy joy”, masturbation is overtly celebrated. “Yep, that’s right, I admit that I masturbate. I’m proud of it. I’m good at it. I’m ambidextrous. If there were a Professional Masturbators League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars.” In a jab towards religious views of masturbation, the author continues, “And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs.”
“I never thought I would have to deal with any of this” said the mother of the freshman student. Her daughter described that “she was very uncomfortable with reading about the masturbating stuff” and claimed that the teacher has been playing the audio version of the book for the entire class to listen. The 9th grader was also asked to read a passage in class that contained profanity.
“I was very much disturbed after she told me that,” said the concerned mom.
The book is yet another example of inappropriate content in CCPS, but the decision by the English teacher to include the reading in course curriculum for children as young as 14 years old is shocking. Like “Lawn Boy”, the inappropriate content in “The Absolutely True-Diary of a Part-Time Indian” was overlooked for the number of awards it received and having met intersectional criteria for marginalized communities.
The CCPS media acceptance criteria also overlooked the sexual harassment allegations against the author. In 2018, ten women came forward to accuse Sherman Alexie of using his “literary celebrity to lure them into uncomfortable sexual situations.” Alexie apologized and later returned the Carnegie Medal award he had received for the book.
Tom Scanlan, candidate for Carroll County Board of Education, recently attacked the Concerned Parents group on Facebook for “working to undermine the academic freedom and integrity of our school Media Specialist.” His social media post displayed an image of a stack of books that have been recently challenged/banned, one of which included “The Absolutely True-Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Scanlon’s post was also liked by Amanda Jozkowski, another candidate for Board of Education.
Concerned Parents disagrees with Scanlan’s assertion that challenging books of any kind is undermining academic freedom. Specific books, such as “The Absolutely True-Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, clearly violate community standards and certainly should not be required reading for 14-year-olds.
Scanlan believes, in the name of academic freedom, that parents should stay silent while their 14-year-old children are sexualized and taught the joys of masturbation by an author who is a serial sexual predator. He has demonstrated that he’s part of the problem and is not fit for the Board of Education.
We ask all Carroll County parents to become more involved in your children’s public-school education, and don’t be afraid to question things that in your gut doesn’t feel right. Explore your child’s school library on the Destiny online search tool and review their course curriculum. Report questionable content to your child’s teacher via email, copying your principal, superintendent, board of education, and firstname.lastname@example.org.