A Massachusetts School District teacher has been put on administrative leave after reading Margaret Atwood short stories aloud in class, WBZ-TV reported.
The literature in question is a collection of short stories by famed author Margaret Atwood called “Happy Endings,” according to WBZ. The alleged incident happened in a sophomore English class on the second day of school in Westport, a town in the South Coast region of the state. It was reported by a student’s mother who took offense.
“She was just in shock this was even being spoken about,” the high school sophomore’s mother told WBZ. “There was sexual stuff in there I didn’t think was age appropriate in there. Even so, something like that, sexually, should be taught in home, not at school.” The mother added, “It was traumatizing that this is actually going on at the school.” (RELATED: Parents Furious At School Board For Pushing LGBT, Sexual Content On Kids Despite Them ‘Opting Out’)
UPDATE: The teacher has been put on paid administrative leave. https://t.co/fzVbwxH9YR
— WBZ | CBS News Boston (@wbz) September 2, 2023
The same parent reportedly sent an excerpt to the Fall River Reporter depicting the graphic nature of the work, including lines like: “He comes to her apartment twice a week and she cooks him dinner, you’ll notice that he doesn’t even consider her worth the price of a dinner out, and after he’s eaten dinner he f**** her and after that he falls asleep.”
Thomas Aubin, Westport Community Schools superintendent, told WBZ that “Happy Endings” was not part of the curriculum and that the teacher who introduced it is being investigated.
Still, not everyone finds harm in the teacher using the work.
“I’d be fine with that. I don’t see anything objectionable,” said Craig Dutra, another Westport parent. “I’m a big First Amendment person. I believe that curriculum frameworks are just that – teachers should have the freedom to select the tools they choose.”
In one spirited defense of the teacher’s decision, David Ehrens noted in an open letter to The Fall River Reporter, “[t]his newest candidate for censorship is more a candidate for classroom or workshop discussion than an actual story. There ought to be no confusion about the purpose of a teacher’s choosing ‘Happy Endings’ to illustrate certain truths about writing.”
Superintendent Aubin disagrees. “The most important thing we do is to protect our kids, whether it’s their emotional or academic safety,” he said.
And the concerned mother asks, “Think of your young ones. Would you want them in class listening to that?”