Nebraska high schooler tells school board required book is so inappropriate, even the teacher wouldn’t read one of its lines

An Omaha, Nebraska-area high school student told her school board that a required book was so “disgusting and horrendous,” even the teacher was “uncomfortable.”

“I’m here to talk…

An Omaha, Nebraska-area high school student told her school board that a required book was so “disgusting and horrendous,” even the teacher was “uncomfortable.”

“I’m here to talk about the book that we are required to read in English class,” Gwendolyn Leonard said, at the Papillion La Vista school board meeting last week. “The book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Powell, it is a disgusting and horrendous book that should not have been considered.”

Leonard claimed the book contained racists remarks, sexual content, inappropriate conversations and scenes of student bullying. 

“This novel is only going to teach students that it is okay to have sex with whoever want, that it is okay to be racist towards anyone, as well as teach us that it is okay to call people sluts and whores,” Leonard said. “The Papillion school district is saying when having us read Eleanor and Park, that we can say whatever we want such as, ‘Do I make you wet?’ to students in the hallways.”  

On Feb. 15, Leonard says she went to her principal with her concerns over the required reading material. Her principal suggested she ask for an alternative reading book, different than the one her peers would be reading. 

“This is a problem because the fact that it is needed to ask for an alternate book just proves that it is a terrible book,” Leonard told the board. “I will not be asking for an alternate book because I will not be excluded from my class.” 

The day after her conversation with the principal, her English teacher refused to repeat a line from the book during class because it made him “uncomfortable.”  

“On Feb. 16, my teacher was talking about the book to the class and said that he will not repeat a line in the book because even the teacher was uncomfortable [with] it,” Leonard said. “It is unbelievable to me that we are required to read this book and also let any high schooler, no matter the age, be able to walk into the school library and read this disgusting and inappropriate book. 

“Yet, if there was a book about religion in the curriculum it would be taken out immediately.”  

This isn’t the first time the book Eleanor and Park has been challenged in a public school district.  

In 2016, concerned parent Troy Cooper challenged the book after his daughter brought it home from her Minnesota school. It was on the school’s summer reading list.  

Upon reading the book, Cooper found “227 curse words or use of the Lord’s name in vain, underage drinking, drug use, hints of sexual abuse and budding teenage sexuality,” according to the Star Tribune.  

“We are not looking to completely shelter our children, but we are looking to preserve their innocence as long as possible,” Cooper said. “Our children’s minds are not trash receptacles waiting for the latest teen novel to come out.”  

Texans Wake Up has also posted an advisory about the book, detailing a few explicit passages, as well as the profanity contained in it.