COMPTON, Calif.—Parents at Emerson Elementary School were outraged, and they let the school's principal and school board know it in no uncertain terms, after photos became public of former adult star Sasha Grey reading to one of its classes.
"People like her should not be around children. It's a lack of respect to the children and society," parent Teresa Martinez said.
"It should have been someone making the distinction as to what kind of actress she was before she read to my child," parent Tiana Harris said.
"They could not find a fireman or a police officer?" asked parent Dudley Wheaton. "They had to get a porn star?"
What specifically, you may ask, could a fireman or police officer do better than a former porn star? Why, read a book to first- and third-graders!
"We have several celebrities who read to our students each year," an Emerson spokesperson told TMZ. "The actress you indicated was not present."
But this was apparently a lie, since video of the reading has been posted to YouTube, and several photos appear at TMZ.com.
Not everyone agreed with the bigots, however.
"It doesn't bother me as long as she wasn't revealing a whole lot of anything. She was properly dressed," said one child's mother, who asked not to be identified.
Grey, the star of Steven Soderberg's The Girlfriend Experience and the upcoming I Melt with You, who also had a pivotal role on the HBO series Entourage, and whose book, Neu Sex, was published earlier this year, recently announced her retirement from acting in adult movies.
"From now on I will not be playing roles where I play a version of myself, or a hooker, for a very long time," she told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "I think The Girlfriend Experience and Entourage were the best places to play those two roles and it can't get any better. I don't want to repeat myself, and I think if I continue to take those types of roles I will only be given those roles."
Grey also gave TMZ a statement regarding her elementary school experience.
"I am proud to have participated in the 'Read Across America' program at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, CA," she stated. "I read Dog Breath by Dav Pilkey to the sweetest 1st and 3rd grade children.
"'Read Across America' is a program that was designed to promote literacy and instill a lifelong love of reading in elementary school students. Promoting education is an effort that is close to my heart. Illiteracy contributes to poverty; encouraging children to pick up a book is fundamental.
"I believe education is a universal right. I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent.
"I am an actor. I am an artist. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a partner. I have a past that some people may not agree with, but it does not define who I am.
"I will not live in fear of it. To challenge non-profit education programs is an exercise in futility, counter-productive and anti-educational.
"I cannot thank my fans and 'Read Across America' enough for supporting my decision. Your support and kind words continue to inspire me. I believe in the future of our children, and I will remain an active supporter and participant in education-focused initiatives."
Of course, Grey is hardly the only current or former adult star who's contributed in one way or another to charitable causes. Girlfriends Films, for example, has a monthly donation program where they allow one of their actresses to choose a philanthropic cause to which the company will donate $1,000: IVD's Frank Kay is involved in charity work, and many adult performers and producers are involved in animal rescue and distribution of food to the poor. Grey is simply the highest profile performer to do so.
And as for adult stars reading to children, Vivid CEO Steve Hirsch was quick to jump on the bandwagon, sending a letter to Emerson Elementary School principal Sydney Ritchey-Burnett, TMZ.com reported, commending the school for allowing Grey to participate and offering up two of his stars, Chyna and Allie Haze, as possible future volunteers.
"Sasha is a fine actress with many wonderful roles to her credit—including outstanding performances in adult movies," Hirsch wrote of the star of Paul Thomas' Throat: A Cautionary Tale. "It is great to see that Emerson Elementary School did not deprive the first-graders of the opportunity to hear Sasha read because of some preconceived stereotype resulting from her adult performances."
Perhaps some of the most salient comments about the event, however, came from sex-positive activist Amanda Marcotte, a major contributor to the RHRealityCheck.org blog.
"Our hypocritical, puritanical society has an inexhaustable appetite for fresh porn product that requires a constant stream of people into the industry, but when they've served their masturbatory purpose, we collectively shun them and make it hard for them to find gainful employment outside of the industry," she wrote in part. "The probability verges on 100 percent that one of the irate parents in this situation has orgasmed while watching Grey penetrated in various orifices. (She's just that famous.) But they probably don't feel remotely bad joining in the shunning efforts."
UPDATE: According to a report by the Associated Press, Compton will "review the selection process" for celebrity guests reading to kids with their "outside talent coordinator," who had listed Sasha Gray only as "an actress who had appeared in the HBO show Entourage when she was proposed as a participant in the Guest Reading Program at Emerson Elementary School," without mentioning her prior porn career.
According to a statement released by the Compton Unified School District, "The district says it will review the selection process with the coordinator to avoid any potentially controversial readers in the future."
And of course, religious right-wing groups were quick to find the conspiracy behind Gray's appearance.
"This could be something that this porn star is trying to use to reposition herself—but no such repositioning, no such politics should ever occur at the expense of our children and at the expense of the trust of the parents," babbled Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute.
Yeah, that's right: Gray didn't care about the kids; she just wanted to get herself some of that juicy mainstream street cred! And of course, her reading from Dog Breath—about "a dog named Hally, who lived with the Tosis family" and "emits green puffs of breath so toxic they knock Grandma Tosis out of her chair"—was "at the expense of [the] children," who undoubtedly picked up on the subtle "I'm a porn star; fuck me now!" vibe that underlay every word Gray spoke.
Apparently, Gray's reading also had something to do with the fact that California schools will soon be required to include the contributions of gays and lesbians to California's history, since according to Dacus, "California public schools right now are under severe attack because they are deliberately allowing people to come into the classroom or are studying about people allegedly in history that provide the kinds of role models that parents typically don't want for their children."
Because after all, sex workers (and gays and lesbians) have never done a damned thing positive for California—except bring in tens of millions of dollars in taxes, provide entertainment that eclipses all sports revenues combined, and exceeds all sales by the state's music industry.