MILTON — Santa Rosa County Superintendent of Schools Tim Wyrosdick says he will not ban Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" from the school curriculum despite a Milton mother's request that it be re-evaluated. 

Sonja McCall-Strehlow filed the formal request Oct. 10, questioning whether the book was appropriate because of its use of profanity and using God's name in vain. She also had concerns about Bradbury including sex, drugs, suicide, murder and abortion in the book. 

"I'm very disappointed in the whole system," McCall-Strehlow said Thursday. "School is a place where children are supposed to be safe, but the material being read isn't safe content."

McCall-Strehlow argued that if the students are made to sign a handbook that prohibits the use of profanity on school grounds, then they should not be reading it in book assignments.

The book, according to the re-evaluation form, was being read by eighth-graders at Central School.

On Nov. 1, Wyrosdick sent out a letter in response to McCall-Strehlow's complaint. He said a District Materials Review Committee was formed to review the book and later submitted a recommendation.

Wyrosdick said the right to read, like all rights guaranteed or implied in the Constitution, can be used wisely or foolishly. He added that School District policy encourages students and parents to speak up if they are uncomfortable with material and allows for alternative assignments.

"I am supporting the decision that 'Fahrenheit 451' remain a choice of educational material as part of the core curriculum," Wyrosdick said.

Bradbury's novel, set in the 24th century, is about the life of protagonist Guy Montag, who is a firefighter in charge of burning illegally owned books as well as the homes of the lawbreakers. 

In the fictional world, books became illegal after small groups objected to literature that offended them, according to Sparknotes.

In McCall-Strehlow's argument, she said students "in today's society" may take the book's concepts — murder, bullying drugs — literally.

"I do realize our society has all of these elements, but should young minds be subjected to such filth at this age in eighth grade?" she asked.

McCall-Strehlow said she first heard about the book assignment when her 13-year-old daughter asked her what a "bastard" was.

"She said that word was in the book and proceeded to tell me what else was in it," she said. "We make students sign a student handbook, agreeing no profanity will be used on the school grounds. So, why are we making them read a book that's full of profanity?"

"Fahrenheit 451" was removed from classroom use in Bay County in 1987 because of vulgarity, according to an article by the New York Times. The book's banning resulted in a class-action lawsuit, a media stir and student protests. 

McCall-Strehlow suggested replacing "Fahrenheit 451" with "The Giver," "When the English Fall," "Animal Farm" and "Gathering Blue."

Ironically, a parent in Okaloosa County tried to get "The Giver" banned from local elementary school libraries in 2005.

"I'm just trying to keep my little girl a little girl," the mother told the committee reviewing the book.

Committee members thought the book should not be required reading in elementary schools, as it was in some Okaloosa County middle schools. However, they balked at removing it from elementary school libraries.

McCall-Strehlow's second suggestion was to censor some of the language in "Fahrenheit 451."

McCall-Strehlow said that despite the School District's assurance her daughter can opt for another assignment, she's not satisfied. She said her daughter and a handful of other students upset about the novel plan to start a petition to get "Fahrenheit 451" out of Santa Rosa County schools for good.

"I think it's a sad situation," McCall-Strehlow said. "I wouldn't want another child to have to read that book."