A public high school in suburban Ohio is asking ninth-grade students to read a slam poetry book that discusses a young girl abandoning her Christian faith, talking to drug dealers, and partaking in sexual acts.
Hilliard Bradley High School near Columbus, Ohio, is requesting that ninth-grade English students read a slam poetry book entitled, “The Poet X.” The school has provided limited alternatives and students must opt-out of the assigned readings if parents do not feel comfortable with the graphic content in the book.
In the first two pages of the assigned poetry, the underaged main character Xiomara addresses drug dealers who cat-call her. At one point the drug dealer says that “church girls are all freaks.”
“Ayo, Xiomara, you need to start wearing dresses like that,” the poem reads. “Shit, you’d be wifed up before going back to school. Especially knowing you church girls are all freaks.”
The main character also alludes to boys requesting nude photos of her.
The broader plot of the poem is that Xiomara believes that Christianity — the bedrock of her familial values — hinders her ability to live freely. At the beginning of the book, Xiomara talks about how she yearns to tell her mother that Jesus is “a friend I just don’t think I need anymore.”
The poem reads:
It’s not any one thing that makes me wonder about the capital G.O.D.
About a holy trinity that doesn’t include the mother. It’s all the things.
Just seems as I got older I began to really see the way that church treats a girl like me differently. Sometimes it feels all I’m worth is under my skirt and not between my ears.
Sometimes I feel that turning the other cheek could get someone like my brother killed. Sometimes I feel my life would be easier if I didn’t feel like such a debt to a God that don’t really seem to be out here checking for me.
One of the poems is entitled, “I Think the Story of Genesis Is Mad Stupid.”
Other portions of the book describe graphic sexual activities. One poem, titled “Fingers,” describes masturbation. Another, titled “Hands,” describes Xiomara touching her love interest in a classroom. Another describes Xiomara and her love interest preparing to have sexual intercourse.
The poem was written by Elizabeth Acevedo, a National Poetry Slam Champion and daughter of Dominican immigrants. Acevedo won prestigious poetry prizes for “The Poet X.”
The school district did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
Donna Senchesak, the Director of the Parents for Educational Rights chapter in Ohio and a Hilliard Bradley parent, told The Daily Wire that the district’s goal was to provide poetry written by non-white authors, though she was confused why the school had to pick such graphic poetry.
Senchesak has pulled her daughter from the class that was reading the book. She told The Daily Wire that she is still fighting back against the school district so that other students and parents are not subjected to the poems.
“I am still fighting for these students and parents even though my daughter does not have to read it anymore,” Senchesak said. “I am concerned for kids … that they can’t handle it.”
Senchesak claims that she asked the high school’s principal to meet with her and was denied a meeting after her daughter was pulled from the class.