'Gossip Girls' books banned from Picayune schools

Published: Sep. 21, 2011 at 2:30 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM CDT
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PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - A book loaded with foul language and sexually explicit material has been pulled from the library shelves at Picayune Junior High School.

The book is in the popular "Gossip Girls" series, which are described on a scholastic reader website as "containing profanity and sexual situations, some editions also talk about drug and alcohol use."

After seeing the book, the parents of one of the teens said it was time to take action.

Tony Smith told WLOX News it was the cover of the book "Nobody Does It Better" that got his wife's attention, but the words on the pages shocked her.

"The f-word is in there. It makes reference to 'F&$% this test,' 'F&$% the teacher.' It makes some sexual explicit comments in their that I find very offensive, as a parent.

Smith paged through the paperback for an example.

"Here's one of the quotes in here it says, "Hopefully Nate's friends will get the hint and make like bees and F&$% off," Smith read.

Smith said his 13-year-old daughter, a 7th grade student at Picayune Junior High, checked out the book from the school library to do a book report.

Smith who happens to be chairman of the Picayune School Board, told his wife the procedure to bring it to the attention of school leaders.

"She expressed her concerns to the school board about how books get into the library system."

Picayune Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell wouldn't talk on camera, but told WLOX News by phone that the book had been in the school library since January. But he couldn't say how many times students had checked it out.

The Gossip Girls books are on the Advanced Reader selection list used by schools around the country. Students can choose to read more books and take tests on the content.

"I'd like to know what's on the quiz," Smith said.

After hearing Mrs. Smith's complaint, the school board and administration decided to remove the Gossip Girls books from the all the libraries in the district. But this father is still not happy with how the book ended up in the junior high library.

"As we've talked to the librarians, we've found that salesmen will come by and they make sales pitches on different books and they'll say, 'These our the top selling books nationwide.' And pretty much, the librarians will trust their judgement."

Smith said the district is now reviewing how library books are selected. Smith, who was recently elected to the State Senate, is in the process of drafting legislation in hopes of preventing a similar situation in other schools around the state.

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