‘Sei come sei’ (You are who you are) by Melania Mazzuco, tells the story of Eva, an 11-year-old girl who moves to Milan to live with relatives following the death of her gay father, where she is the victim of homophobic bullying.
But for parents of students at the Giulio Cesare high school in Rome, the book, which was set by teachers as reading to pupils aged 14-16, is “obscene” and "pornographic".
An official complaint has now been filed against the teachers at the school for the “publication of obscene scenes” and “corruption of minors”.
According to the complaint, the students "were forced to read a novel with a strong homosexual nature" which included passages that "reveal clear pornographic content".
In particular, parents took issue with a passage involving oral sex in a changing room, Corriere della Sera reported.
Reacting to the complaint, Giulio Cesare’s head teacher Micaela Riccardi described it as “an instrumental action from far-right groups who want to take advantage of the notoriety of Giulio Cesare to attack anti-homophobia policies.”
The book, which was set as reading over December to students and studied in class in January, had been chosen as class material simply because it was “a great book”, she said.
“This complaint came out months later. The timing shows it is instrumental. Even the daughter of a very Catholic couple who asked for an explanation about the book said she thought it was great.”
Quoted in Corriere della Sera, the author described her “dismay and sorrow” at the news.
“I think the charges of obscenity against a novel that speaks simply of family and love specious, and the accusation made against the teachers ridiculous,” Mazzucco said.
“Reading novels that are about real things and complex subjects from our lives has never corrupted anyone. Unless you want to call into question the right of children to be [considered] people capable of understanding and wanting to make their own opinions.”