A New Jersey school has dropped two popular books with—gasp! Gay sex scenes!—from their required reading lists, and apologized to parents for exposing their children to such a morally reprehensible act. The books? Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood and Nic Sheff's Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines . The meth and mental instability and suicide that make up the other major themes in the books? Those are apparently just fine.

Wood, a coming-of-age tale set in Japan in the '60s, centers around the relationship between a student and his mentally unstable friend, who's haunted by the suicide of her boyfriend. At one point, a supporting character describes her lesbian seduction at the hands of a 13-year-old girl. It's graphic, but not salacious—and it plays into the larger themes of self and sexual discovery that permeate the entire book. Tweak, as its name implies, is the autobiographical tale of a teenager who gets hooked on crystal meth, and in one scene ends up gay hustling himself for a fix. The entire book is graphic, intense and generally terrifying, and the gay sex scene is no less shocking than the detailed descriptions of shooting up with dirty needles.

And yet: "There were some words and language that seemed to be inappropriate as far as the parents and some of the kids were concerned," said Monroe Township Schools in Williamstown superintendent Chuck Earling, referring specifically to the gay sex. Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council jumped on the book-banning bandwagon, telling Fox News that "Here we see the intersection of parental values being offended, the hyper-sexualization of our youth and the homosexual agenda being pushed. This just illustrates why a lot of American parents are not willing to entrust their children to the public schools anymore."

The reading list, however, was prepared by a committee of teachers, librarians and school administrators, and was approved by the Board of Education, who reasoned that kids these days are exposed to more graphic topics on TV and online. As gay blog Queerty puts it, the appropriate response here is to point out the "ridiculousness of their arguments and to have students, teachers, and educators stand-up and explain the value of keeping these books rather than buckling like belts."