Book banning in school districts is the rage here in the U.S. for the past two years, like in medieval times. Laws are being passed that restrict what books school children can have in their school libraries or that teachers use to teach their classes. Banning x-rated material, of course, seems most legitimate. But the movement has gone way beyond that, including the banning of books about race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Now, politics has gotten involved, which involves parents’ rights associated with schools. A hot spot has been the populous Stated of Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis, after resisting COVID-19 restrictions in schools during the pandemic, has gotten his Parental Rights in Education law passed. It constrains teacher instruction on gender and sexuality. This has led some Florida school districts to ban books on LGBTQ. Violations of this law can be punishable up to five years in prison.
But the state that has had the largest number of books banned in its school districts in the past two years is Texas, where I lived for forty years. Every Texas school book must be accounted for as to, for instance, if any “pornographic” content is age-appropriate. These book ban laws can be pretty subjective and easily invoked. Even a single parent can complain to a school district about a book and thereby get it removed. As a result, school libraries are being “gutted,” leaving students with far less access to books.
Last year, the Utah state legislature passed a law banning “Sensitive Materials in Schools,” which is defined as “instructional material that is pornographic or indecent.” A Utah citizen in the Davis School District–located between Salt Lake City and Ogden–reacted to this law by complaining that the King James Version of the Bible is “pornographic by our definition,” meaning the definition of the new book banning law.
A school committee then agreed that the Bible was not “age-appropriate for elementary and middle-school students.” Yet the committee explained that the Bible does not contain “sensitive material” the law seeks to keep out of public schools. Thus, the Davis School District removed all Bibles from its libraries in eight elementary and middle-schools, but did not do so in its high schools. Another district citizen then appealed that decision. So, the Bible in a Utah school district still remains on trial.