Parents angry over explicit book assigned by school to 7th graders

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. Parents are angry after learning about the homework assigned to 7th graders at Democracy Prep at Agassi Campus charter school in Las Vegas.

Shateraka Hampton says her 12-year old son was reading the book and came to his parents about clarification for a word in his assignment that he did not understand. "The word that he didn't understand was, 'masturbate'," Hampton said. "I was like, 'What are these kids reading?'"

The book angering parents is called "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. It is banned in schools nationwide because of its explicit language and mature content. The book includes the topics of masturbation, racism, violence and the "F"-word, and the "N"-word.

"It's like the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' for kids," said Hampton. She wants to know why the charter school chose it as assigned reading for 7th graders.

"Naked woman and all this stuff about masturbation, you thought that was appropriate?" Hampton goes on to say, "Not once did you ask us permission to expose our children to his foul language."

Hampton took her concerns about the book to the administration and says she was told the book is part of the curriculum to teach kids about racism.

"If you're just going to discuss the racism and that aspect, then why not pick another book?" Hampton said. She isn't the only parent who voiced concerns about the reading material. Karissa Lott who also has a student at the school says, "To sit there and say, they're at that age when they're going to start being exposed to this. Well that should be our decision!'"

According to Hampton,"If sex education requires some type of permission slip, then this should have required some type of permission slip."

Democracy Prep Public Schools issued the following statement:
"This young adult novel, which received the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and was named one of the best books of 2007 by the School Library Journal, has been a successful and important part of our curriculum, as well as the curriculum of other successful school districts for several years. The novel's thought-provoking themes include bullying, race, violence, and other issues relevant to young people today. If there are parent concerns, our principal is available to meet, to discuss, and if, appropriate, offer alternative texts."

A school spokesperson says parents who have concerns about the book should notified the school. In some cases, the student could be given an alternative assignment.