Parents Outcry Against School Requiring Pornographic Reading Material!

A Letter from Catholic Parents in Minnesota

Parents Ask…
We’re dealing with an issue at our child’s Catholic high school and were hoping you could give us a little direction in handling it. The English Department puts out a summer reading list for each grade level, some are optional and some are required reading (which means they plan to discuss it upon their return to school this Fall). On our daughter’s senior reading list, one of the required books is “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. I had been told by another mom that it was pretty obscene and that, when her daughter was in that class a couple years ago, she went all the way to the Board to try to get it off the list. Basically, they defended the book and disregarded her as out of sync with the modern world, with statements such as, “These kids are exposed to this stuff all the time, etc….” The school allowed her daughter to read a different book but “The Color Purple” continues to be on the required list. I decided that, in order to be more informed about the book before I complained, I should at least read it. I can’t tell you how disgusted and shocked I was to read what they are deeming as literature?? I read some of it to my husband just to make sure I wasn’t being too naive or prudish, and he was equally disgusted with it. If you aren’t familiar with it, this is a brief description of what I’ve read (about 1/2 of book): The story is written, in very visual language detail, regarding incest relationships, masturbation, lesbian attractions, vulgar language, and derogatory terms, to name a few of the topics.

I have put in a call to the English Dept. Head because I’m assuming she is the one making the decision for this reading. I’m sure there are other bad ones on the list, but this one is so blatant. We do not want our daughter to read it (and in fact, we won’t have her read it). She is still very innocent and pure; and a book like this would be so damaging and insulting to her. We just don’t allow trash (movies, books, TV shows, etc.) in our house. And although, I’m assuming they will allow her to read something else because they did for my friend’s daughter, this is very isolating for a student. She is strong and will handle that fine, I’m sure, but we would still like to get the book off the list completely. We think it is immoral that a Catholic school would be advocating this “pornographic” material and it seems, in a sense, to be a form of sexual harassment in requiring their students to be exposed to it. They’re always so vocal about being politically correct about sexual harassment! Anyway, if you could give any advice on how to handle this, could you email us back? Do you think it would be better to meet face to face with the Dept. Head, call her, or write a letter? As it is only about 1 month until school starts, I thought I’d make the first attempt by phone and see where it goes from there. Thanks in advance!


Dear Catholic parents,

The problem you have run into is all too common. I know that a number of times parents have complained to some of our English teachers about the kinds of books they are using with our Catholic youth. If the teacher would just have some common sense and a genuinely Catholic mindset there wouldn’t be any bad books chosen. The book you mentioned “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, a militant lesbian, is indeed pornography and should never be read in any high school, public or private. You have every right to be morally indignant about having politically correct trash used in a purportedly Catholic school. There so many wonderful contemporary and classic Catholic novelists that could be used instead. What I would suggest you do is go to the teacher first and preferably with some other parents and point out exactly what you believe is harmful about the book. Then also encourage the teacher to substitute a good contemporary Catholic writer–someone appropriate for high school.If you want examples of good Catholic literature, I am sure Leaflet Missal would have some good books on hand. You could also take a look at the Ignatius Press catalogue which has a fair amount of good Catholic literature. If you don’t get anywhere with the English teacher, I would suggest that you and other parents schedule a meeting with the principal of the highschool and express again how dangerous and morally irresponsible it is for a Catholic institution to be exposing impressionable teenagers to sexually deviant and indeed pornographic literature. I hope this helps. I will certainly pray for you that you get the kind of results you should. God be with you!

In Christ, Fred