Part 2 of 2 parts: WCASD residents express major concerns about possible approval of the controversial anti-Christian book The Poet X for use in the 9th grade core curriculum.
West Chester Area School District, Pennsylvania
Note: Part 1 should be read before Part 2 in order to thoroughly understand the background of this post.
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. During the Education Committee meeting of the WCASD school board on September 12, 2022, four district residents, at least one of whom is Jewish, expressed strong objections to having this anti-Christian (specifically anti-Catholic) book approved. The 3 minute presentations of these four individuals can be viewed directly on YouTube by cutting and pasting the links noted for each speaker into your browser.
The Poet X can be read for FREE from the pdf file that can be accessed on line at:
Speaker 1 (M.W.): M.W.’s entire presentation is transcribed below. It starts at: https://youtu.be/31NU28pEPNw?t=419
A mov file of his presentation is included in the Supporting Documents.
“The following are quotes from The Poet X, currently being considered as core instructional material for English classes:
‘The Virgin Mary was an impregnated virgin who was probably scared shitless.’
‘The parable of Eve is bullshit.’
‘[The] story of Genesis is Mad Stupid.’
‘Everything in the Bible is nothing more than metaphor.’
‘Jesus feels like…a friend I just don’t think I need any more.’
I’m confused. I thought that religion was already removed from the public school system. Yet with this book you seem to have no problem inviting God back in to treat him to some 21st century hostility, courtesy of the "tolerant" Left. This isn’t the first time either. You have a book in high school libraries called Lawn Boy where two 4th grade male characters engage in oral sex in the bushes…wait for it…BEHIND A CHURCH! I think I’m starting to catch on – no church in school unless it’s used as the setting for sexually explicit books available for minors.
You can’t have it both ways. If you want God out of school then fine…leave Him alone! Just don’t drag Him back in when it suits your agenda. We were told during the review for Gender Queer that the book ‘saved lives.’ I’m sure there are Christian students in this district who feel the same way about their faith. How do you think this book would make them feel? Welcome? Included? Affirmed? I doubt it.
Contrary to what you believe, Christianity is a very diverse religion. It's not all white men like me. In fact my congregation has many black and Hispanic members. This past month we even welcomed a new member from India. I want you to consider this when you decide whether or not to move forward with this book. Consider all of the people in this district who call themselves Christians: your teachers, the students, the taxpayers. And ask yourselves if you are truly fulfilling the school's mission of being inclusive.”
Speaker 2: (A.G.’s presentation begins at https://youtu.be/31NU28pEPNw?t=657)
=>A.G. stated (excerpt): “I’d like to express my deep concern and disgust for the proposed required reading these committees are reviewing. Why does the District insist on exposing our children and now looking to require that our children are reading obscene, violent and sexually-explicit material? What happened to requiring our children to reading the classics and to have Socratic discussions around those?”
=>A.G. read two examples of obscene/sexually explicit passages from The Poet X, one that can be read on page 36 of the on-line pdf file, and a second describing the protagonist masturbating that can be read on page 111 from the on-line pdf file.
Speaker 3: (A.C.’s presentation begins at https://youtu.be/31NU28pEPNw?t=815)
=>A.C. cited and quoted from the lawsuit filed by parents in North Carolina regarding The Poet X. This lawsuit is described in an on-line article that can be accessed from a link provided in the Supporting Documents.
=>A.C. stated (excerpt): “The above quotes and excerpts from the book are not isolated or incidental or taken out of context. Such hostile expressions and/or general hostility to Christianity pervade the book. Indeed, a complete reading of the book reveals to any reasonably objective observer that the book tears down Christianity in the service of constructing another alternative to finding liberation and meaning in life. It is frankly impossible to miss that message…There can simply be no question that the book’s frontal assault on Christian beliefs and values and her promotion of an alternative path to liberation and meaning is the central message regardless of whether we call it a coming-of-age book or anything else.”
=>A.C. then read the poem describing the sexual activity of the protagonist with her boyfriend that can be found on page 268 from the on-line pdf file.
=>A.C. stated (excerpt): “I understand the district wants students to read controversial books to foster dialogue. However, this book with its toxic messaging towards Judeo-Christian values, profanity and sexual situations crosses the line. No student should be required to read sensitive subject matter that could potentially be psychologically triggering for minors.”
Speaker 4: (M.O.’s presentation begins at https://youtu.be/31NU28pEPNw?t=1007
=>M.O. This comment makes an extremely important point which will be discussed at the end of this post:
“I and many other parents have serious reservations about the book and the process by which was selected. I heard it was parents with expertise (as one of the ladies mentioned) who were chosen to participate. If that is the case what qualifications are needed to be considered and would having a double masters in communication and psychology and being bicultural and bilingual help one qualify for this volunteer role?”
=>M.O. stated (excerpt): “This book is an insult on too many levels to count. This book not only attacks religion, painting a radical superstitious version of it to our children instead of a healthy path to fulfillment, but also introduces superficial sex and drugs to young impressionable minds as a way out of their problems. Every rational thinking adult knows that sex and drugs don’t solve a young girl’s problems but rather they combine to create a damaging distraction which often brings an entirely new set of larger and long-term problems. This book’s message feeds a narrative that if you experience dysfunction in your family’s life, the only sensible intelligent option is to debase yourself, get used by men and spend the rest of your life chasing ephemeral pleasures that afterwards leave you even more destroyed psychologically… The author co-ops Christian beliefs and scriptures all throughout the book…. Apparently, according to this book the only way for a young girl to be happy is to reduce herself to an object to be taken advantage of while promising fleeting sexual experiences.”
COMMENT: M.O.’s questioning the process of selection of committee members is important since a diverse selection of individuals on committees making these important decisions is essential in order to attain a fair end result. If the District wishes a desired outcome, they merely have to choose members who will ensure them of such. One example was the large committee of individuals who were chosen to evaluate whether or not the pornographic book Gender Queer should be retained in WCASD high school libraries. Although the one school board member on this large committee, in an apparently preemptive and defensive tactic, vociferously denied that such was the case, the evaluation committee was UNQUESTIONABLY STACKED with individuals who would vote in favor of retention. The District wanted this pornographic book to remain in the high school libraries and certainly seemed to select committee members who would produce that result. Hopefully M.O.’s question regarding the committee selection process will produce a more diverse and fairer mix of evaluators in the future.
The WCASD school board will make the final decision as to whether or not The Poet X will be included in the core curriculum for ninth graders. If they opt to do so they certainly will be sinking to literature’s lowest common denominator.
Web site that provides a pdf file that enables everyone to read The Poet X on line
Charlotte Observer article describing lawsuit involving The Poet X
video of M.W.\'s entire three minute presentation