Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/27/merriam_webster/

California school pulls 'oral sex' dictionary

Merriam-Webster too explicit for wide-eyed kiddies

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 27th January 2010 12:44 GMT

A California school last week pulled the Merriam-Webster 10th edition dictionary from fourth and fifth-grade classrooms, after one parent "complained about a child stumbling across definitions for 'oral sex'".

The Menifee Union School District moved with lightning speed to protect Oak Meadows Elementary School's nine and ten-year-olds, and initiated a trawl of the offending tome for further outrages.

Menifee Union School District spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the Riverside 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 whole rumpus didn't much impress some parents. One dad said: "Pretty soon the only dictionary in the school will be the Bert and Ernie Dictionary".

Another noted: "It’s not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he might have heard on the playground. You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next? Pull encyclopedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?"

School board president Rita Peters protested: "If we’re going to pull a book because it has something on oral sex, then every book in the library with that better be pulled. The standard needs to be consistent. We don’t need parents setting policy."

Mercifully, the Menifee Union School District yesterday reached a compromise: the Merriam-Webster will return to classrooms along with an alternative McGraw-Hill student dictionary. Parents will now receive a letter informing them of the decision and those "who do not want their child using the Merriam-Webster can sign a form at the bottom of the letter and return it to the school". ®