Talk about dirty money. American schools and educational programs might be drowning from lack of funding, but being deep in the red isn’t deterring one group from publicly rejecting money tied to a pornographic film star.
Former adult film star Sasha Grey made education headlines last November when she was a celebrity guest reader at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, Calif. Now Grey’s name is back: Although she retired from the porn industry last April, one of Grey’s scenes is featured in adult film “Anal Artists,” set to debut this week by Assence Films. In support of her “recent efforts to expose children to the world of literature,” Assence Films will donate a portion of the film’s proceeds to the National Education Association’s Read Across America program, according to XBiz Newswire.
But in a statement Monday to The Huffington Post, NEA officials said “no, thanks.”
“Sasha Grey is not affiliated with the National Education Association’s Read Across America program nor has she been invited or endorsed by NEA to read at any of the association’s Read Across America Day events, and NEA will not accept any proceeds from her latest, or any of her films,” the statement reads. The NEA is the nation’s largest teachers’ union.
Howard Levine of Exile Distribution, the company charged with releasing “Anal Artists,” told HuffPost that the NEA’s disapproval of Grey’s background is discriminatory.
“Anyone that’s supporting reading and helping kids and donating money to their cause should be accepted. I don’t understand why they would not accept that — only the fact she was in adult films,” Levine said. “I understand their position — they don’t want to be associated with any adult film stars. I think that everybody has a slanted opinion on what the adult film community is so I know that they’re trying to be politically correct.”
Assence’s decision to donate proceeds in support of Grey was also made without her knowledge, said a source close to the actress.
Grey’s November appearance at Emerson Elementary sparked great controversy when she read to first- and third-grade students as a part of the the school’s Guest Reading Program. Her participation was also also widely characterized as being part of the Read Across America program, including by Grey herself.
But the NEA has asserted that the organization neither knew about nor endorsed the event, clarifying that the Compton Unified School District’s Guest Reading Program is not associated with the NEA’s Read Across America initiative.
Parents were outraged that the school brought a porn star into classrooms, but district officials said they were unaware of her adult film past — an outside talent coordinator only listed Grey as an actress who had appeared in the HBO show “Entourage.”
Grey stood her ground in response to public outcry, issuing a Twitter statement Nov. 11 saying that “education is a universal right.”
“Promoting education is an effort that is close to my heart. Illiteracy contributes to poverty; encouraging children to pick up a book is fundamental,” Grey wrote. “I committed to this program with the understanding that people who have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent. … I have a past that some people may not agree with, but it does not define who I am.”
In the Tweet, Grey notes that she would continue to support education and partake in education-focused initiatives. She also thanked her fans and Read Across America for supporting her decision, but NEA officials aren’t really sure why.
“At no time has NEA sent letters or messages of support (or otherwise) or any other communications to Ms. Grey,” according to an NEA statement Monday.