California School District Reverses Dictionary Ban After 'Oral Sex' Flap

Embarrass. -verb 1. To cause confusion and shame; disconcert; abash. As in:

A California school district was EMBARRASSED after it tried to ban America's classic dictionary from 4th- and 5th-grade classrooms because it worried the book contained "age-inappropriate" words.

After conducting an investigation of the very wordy book, Menifee Union School District has reversed its decision and invited Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary back into bookcases at Oak Meadows Elementary School.

The dictionary was banned after a student in the school 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles stumbled upon the phrase "oral sex," which bothered a parent who complained to the school's principal about the racy reading.

Administrators acted quickly, removing the dictionaries from class and keeping them carefully hidden from the prying (and gleeful) eyes of budding etymologists — but not for long.

The school convened a committee of parents, teachers and administrators to determine whether the dictionary was safe for the classroom. It then decided to restore the book and offer an alternative — a second dictionary that does not mention "oral sex," but may well contain a long list of other offensive words known to countless adolescents.

"Parents will be given the option to determine whether or not they wish their child to have access to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary," the district noted in a press release.

Click here to see the announcement.

The district said it was following school board policy to the letter of the law when it banned the book, but its initial decision set off free speech advocates and a number of parents in the district.

"What is the world turning into?" asked Raul Avila, a parent with four children in the Menifee district, including two at Oak Meadows. He told the Press Enterprise in an interview that he though it was an "extreme reaction" for the school to ban the dictionary.

Avila told the paper that it's impossible for the district to completely sanitize the world for its 9,000 students, all of whom are between kindergarten and the 8th grade. He said nothing is going to prevent kids from stumbling upon phrases that might be inappropriate for their ages.

"All you've got to do is turn on the TV," he said.