Michigan mom says “Diary of Anne Frank” too sexual for 7th grade

A Michigan mom is upset that her 7th grade daughter is reading an unedited version of Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl.”

Because nothing says “teaching kids about the Nazis” like censoring books.

The book is the diary of a young German Jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazis for two years in a small attic in Amsterdam.  They were betrayed by a confidant, and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Anne died with her sister mere weeks before the British liberated the camp.

Anne Frank’s diary is considered a classic of world literature.

Anne Frank, from "Anne Frank: Her life in words and pictures from the archives of The Anne Frank House."

Anne Frank, from “Anne Frank: Her life in words and pictures from the archives of The Anne Frank House.”

The Michigan mom says her concern is not with the Holocaust theme of the book, but rather the portions in which the 13 year old girl chronicles some of her sexual awakening, at least as it concerns discovering her own body.

This is the passage of Anne Frank’s book that has the mom filing a formal complaint:

Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris…When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris.

Apparently her daughter was so uncomfortable reading this paragraph that she no longer wanted to read the book.

I don’t have kids, so perhaps my reaction is uninformed.  But part of me would want to tell the kid to suck it up and read the damn book.  Anne Frank was a lot more uncomfortable going to Bergen-Belsen than any kid is reading about it.

Any parents out there?  What do you think?  First, do you think that passage adds anything to the overall mission of the book, or put another way, would it really detract from the book taking that passage out?  And how would you react, first to the passage, but second, if your child claimed to not to want to read the book because of that passage?  And finally, is it relevant that we’re talking about censoring a book about the Nazis, who, among other things, censored – and burned – books.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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