Students at Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minn., are assigned to read “The Poet X,” a novel that has been banned in other districts which are concerned about its sexual content.
The Poet X is a collection of poems that tell the story of a young girl named Xiomara and “the conflict between Xiomara’s religion and the expression of her sexuality,” per Carnegie Mellon University’s Banned Books Project. This central theme is “explored in depth” throughout the work, the project reports.
In 2020, a pair of North Carolina parents sued to have The Poet X removed from their son’s charter school, contending that it violates the school’s duty to remain religiously neutral by arguing so fervently against Catholicism. Although unsuccessful, this suit ascended to the federal level and generated a broad debate about the educational value of the work.
At Centennial High School, this book constitutes one-fifth of the 10th-grade English curriculum, according to a syllabus obtained by Alpha News.
The entire work is available online. One section titled “Fingers” is a first person account of the narrator masturbating before going to sleep, then questioning if such behavior is sinful: “To make myself feel this way is a dirty thing, right? Then why does it feel so good?”
Another section details the narrator’s first period, comparing her application of a tampon to “Father Sean cork[ing] the sacramental wine.” The book is rife with passages like this, which intentionally juxtapose Christian concepts and traditions with sexual themes to develop the novel’s anti-religious premise.
“I just want this stuff to stay out of the public school system. They need to stick to teaching kids the basics,” said a parent whose child is assigned to read The Poet X at Centennial High School.
“This is sickening, we need to protect our kids from schools,” another parent declared on social media after learning about the assigned reading. “Imagine your 10th grader reading this out loud to the class.”
Alpha News reached out to the teacher who assigned the book for comment but did not receive a response.