UNDER THE COVERS

NJ Parents Would Rather Their Kids Read About Suicide, Murder And Meth Than Anything Gay

The Monroe Township School District in Williamstown, New Jersey just yanked Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Nic Sheff’s Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines from their summer reading list after less than a dozen of parents complained that both included scenes of gay sex. Murakami’s has a graphic passage of sex between a 13-year-old lesbian and a 31-year-old woman and Sheff’s has scenes of himself gay hustling for a fix. Strangely, the parents had no problem at all with the books containing scenes of suicide and rampant drug use.

A committee of teachers, librarians and school administrators created the board of education approved reading list before handing it out to students. The district superintendent said, “[The Committee] read the books. They didn’t feel it was inappropriate based on the language that’s used, common language used on the street,” and added that students have seen more graphic things on television or in the movies.

It’s kinda like the recently removed rainbow flags in California and the safe sex bus stop campaign in Australia. When a handful of anti-gay people complain, institutions would rather just pull the offending pieces rather than face potential bad press or a ruckus. The reasonable response would be to point out the ridiculousness of their arguments and to have students, teachers, and educators stand-up and explain the value of keeping these books rather than buckling like belts.

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20 Comments

  • Mark

    I expected to be outraged, but since the sex included child molestation and prostitution for drugs, I am finding it a little difficult. I am sure they’re bigots and who knows if they would have complained if the sex had involved people of the opposite sex, but it’s not as if the sex involved two consenting adults of the same sex in a relationship.

  • Skeloric

    While I think Mark has some validity in his argument, its also a case of reality out there getting inside the books.
    Reality happens.
    Eventually someone writes about it.
    The Bible has scenes of incest and quite a bit else which is objectionable in any other book — yet the Bible gets held up as “Holy” the very same folks who’d otherwise complain about the content.

  • Jimmy Fury

    Wonder if any of the less than a dozen complaining parents would have also complained about Flowers in the Attic.

  • Cam

    Yeah, just like parents in the 1950’s didn’t want their kids reading about anything inte=racial….and look how history has judged THOSE parents.

  • the crustybastard

    @Mark:

    Precisely.

    Queerty, to define “gay sex” as statutory rape and prostitution is to mischaracterize our relationships in the same way those batshit fundamentalists do.

    Think.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Mark: @the crustybastard: Agreed 100%

    Hey Crusty, you do realize that you are asking Queerty/Daniel Virreall to think? Not gonna happen, alas.

  • Marauder

    Wow, they didn’t want their kids to read about little teenybopper girls being raped by adult women? How outrageously homophobic of them!

    Give me a break.

  • Dodgy

    @Mark: Me too, certainly Norwegian Wood doesn’t sound like the sort of book that schoolkids should be encouraged to read

  • Jakey

    I know complaining about Queerty in the comments over and over and over is a pasttime, but I wish you guys would try a little harder. If you read the article itself, and the two others linked to from that article, it becomes apparent (if not quite a certainty) that nobody cares about whether the characters are consenting, hustling, or any other type of context. Nobody even mentions whether the books present these scenes in an approving or disapproving manner. Apparently the only issue is that the scenes involve people of the same sex. In short, they appear to be doing just what crusty says Queerty is doing in this post.

    That said, I too think the post could have done more to draw the distinction themselves. That the complaining parents (apparently) and reporters (certainly) lump this in with “gay sex” is an issue all by itself.

  • Jakey

    P.S. If you think statutory rape isn’t a relevant subject for a teenager to read about, you’re dreaming.

  • Jakey

    P.P.S. It was never a required reading list, and potentially offensive titles were already marked off as such. There was no need to remove them except to prevent kids and parents from hearing about these books in the first place and deciding for themselves whether to read them. How does this not bother you?

  • Mark

    @Jakey: Sure, it’s relevant, but to call it “gay sex” because there are two people of the same sex involved is mis-characterizing gay sex. It’s not “gay sex” it’s rape.

  • Jakey

    @Mark: I know, I just said that myself.

  • Skeloric

    I managed to post at #2 but I’m not certain if anyone else can see my post yet.
    Queerty seems to have been struck with a case of cowardice or something.

  • Just a Canadian

    Somehow you all seem to miss the point. When a book is banned because of supposed or real sexual content all I see is parents that don’t want to see those books available to their kids because their kids just might want to ask them questions about what was in those books.

  • xander

    One of the best ways to get kids to read a book is to ban it…Forbidden fruit and all that.

  • Oscar Raymundo

    @Mark: @the crustybastard: I think the point is that parents framed their argument complaining against the gay/lesbian sex scenes not pedophilia or prostitution.

    And Norwegian Wood is perhaps the best book ever. Shame.

  • Niki

    Wow, Norwegian Woods sounds like a really good book! Not the point of the story, I know, but has anyone read it? Would you recommend it?

  • Dillon

    I’m not surprised, unfortunately. This all comes back to the parents’ fear that their teenage children might just be having sex. Guess what? They are. Taking books off school summer reading lists isn’t going to change that.

  • Skeloric

    This was post #2 but after three days, it still hasn’t cleared.
    So a repost.
    +++
    While I think Mark has some validity in his argument, its also a case of reality out there getting inside the books.
    Reality happens.
    Eventually someone writes about it.
    The B i b l e has scenes of i n c e s t and quite a bit else which is objectionable in any other book — yet the B i b l e gets held up as “H o l y” the very same folks who’d otherwise complain about such content.

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