Of course, at this, all the other girls perk up with curiosity. I vaguely remembered reading something about it a while back.
Me: I think he held hands with a starfish.
Student: <baffled> In America, holding hands with a starfish means you're gay?
Me: It was a boy starfish.
Student: <even more puzzled> Starfish in America are boys? What about my pencilbox? Is it a boy or a girl?
Me: No, the character of the starfish was a boy.
Student: Oh, I see. So...they held hands, and...?
Me: That's it.
Student: ...? So what?
Attempting to explain that some people feel, due to their religious beliefs, that such a thing is evil and children must not be exposed to it...well, let's just say they became even MORE confused.
Japan is very open about sexuality. It's the country of "porn on the corner." You don't have to bother looking for an "adult" bookstore; any bookstore you walk into will have erotica of all kinds displayed openly on the shelves. Comics and magazines featuring women with bare breasts the size of watermelons or half-naked men locked in passionate embraces are within spitting distance of the preschool books.
Also keep in mind that this is a country where families bathe together, and not just the wee tots. Coworkers bathe together at staff parties on a regular basis. Perfect strangers bathe together at hot springs and public baths. Offering to wash your same-sex friend's back in the bath is a sign of kindness.
Thus it's not too surprising that the students couldn't wrap their minds around the idea of someone wanting to ban the sight of a sponge and a starfish holding hands.
In other news, I officially signed my contract for the remainder of the school year.