Part 1 of 2 parts: Why is the WCASD recommending The Poet X, a controversial book with numerous anti-Christian/Catholic messages for their ninth grade core curriculum ELA classes?
West Chester Area School District, Pennsylvania
The West Chester Area School District, whose school board voted 8-1 to retain the pornographic book Gender Queer in their high school libraries, now wants that board to approve the novel The Poet X, an indisputably anti-Christian (specifically anti-Catholic) book, not just for their school libraries, but to be used in their 9th grade core curriculum!
The Poet X, written in poetic form, portrays a diary of a 15 year old Dominican ninth-grader, Xiomara, who lives in Harlem with her strict, religious Catholic mother, her not-so-virtuous philandering father, and her beloved gay brother (Twin). Although there are some cringe-worthy sexual situations involving minors, the most objectionable aspects of the book by far are the numerous anti-Christian quotes that describe Xiomara’s conflicts and disillusionment with her mother’s strong Catholic faith.
The undeniably sacrilegious quotes from The Poet X given below are three of the multiple examples that illustrate the anti-Christian aspects of The Poet X:
1. In one of the novel’s poems, Xiomara says Jesus “feels like a friend … who invites himself over too often, who texts me too much. A friend I just don’t think I need anymore.”
2. Another verse describes Xiomara’s distaste for Holy Communion: “I can feel the hot eyes of the Jesus statue watching me hide the wafer beneath the (church) bench, where his holy body will now feed the mice.”
3. In a third example, Xiomara describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “an impregnated virgin who was probably scared s***less.”
The blasphemous quotes cited above in addition to other impious writings in The Poet X could certainly negatively influence the perspectives of impressionable ninth graders with regard to Christianity. This should be a particular concern to parents who consider their children’s Christian faith to be of utmost importance in their upbringing. That some teachers would use discussions of this material to sway students and impose their own religious (or non-religious) viewpoints upon them is also a major concern. This is not unlikely considering the various indoctrinations known to be occurring in our classrooms in recent years.
The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, was recommended by a committee selection process for use as core instructional material for WCASD 9th graders. Final approval requires a vote of the School Board which is expected to take place at the September 27, 2022 meeting.
The teacher in charge of the process noted that The Poet X “is the winner of many awards including the National Book Award. This coming of age novel is told entirely through verse and tells the story of a narrator through her own perspective and poetry.” (The quotes cited above make many reasonable individuals question why The Poet X is worthy of such awards. This book is in no way comparable to the great works of literature that students have been assigned to read in their ELA classes in past years.)
There is a great deal of information relating to The Poet X on the Internet. When it was adopted for use at the Norman Charter High School in North Carolina, two parents, John and Robin Coble, sued to have it taken out of the classroom. A Charlotte Observer article (noted in the Supporting Documents) explains several of their valid objections to this book:
“John and Robin Coble say The Poet X is overtly anti-Christian, and that the public school’s ‘endorsement’ and use of the novel violates constitutional safeguards against government infringement of religion… Their lawsuit says the book is ‘a frontal assault on Christian beliefs and values,’ and thus violates the First Amendment… The school’s plan to teach the book to the young impressionable minds in their public secondary school runs afoul of the basic precept underpinning the Religion Clauses — that government must remain neutral in the matters of religion and is certainly forbidden from promoting or endorsing materials that exhibit hostility toward any particular religion.” Unfortunately the courts to date do not seem to support these arguments. That does not mean, however, that this offensive and controversial book should be approved as part of the core curriculum for ninth graders in the WCASD.
One has to wonder whether the WCASD district would ever recommend a book that contained references to Islam’s esteemed prophet Muhammed that are analogous to those that The Poet X applies to Jesus. OF COURSE the answer to that question is an unequivocal “NO" for obvious reasons!
Note that objections to this book’s approval is NOT BOOK BANNING as some will undoubtedly claim…anyone who wants to read The Poet X can actually read it FREE on line at the link provided in the Supporting Documents; it simply should not be used in WCASD classrooms for the numerous reasons cited above.
Link to pdf file enabling anyone to read The Poet X on line
Link to article in Charlotte Observer entitled "Parents sue NC charter school, calling ‘Poet X’ novel an ‘assault’ on Christianity"