A Utah school district banned the Bible from elementary and middle school students after it was deemed “too vulgar” and “too violent” for young readers.
The move came after a parent in the district grew frustrated with other efforts to ban books from schools.
District officials in Davis — a district of 72,000 students north of Salt Lake City — removed religious text from elementary and middle schools, but will keep it in high schools.
A committee with the district reviewed The Good Book after a complaint from a parent, and district officials say the committee is made up of parents, teachers and administrators.
There was also a complaint to remove the Book of Mormon from the libraries of young students.
The Davis school district in Utah banned the Bible in elementary and middle school after saying some verses were ‘too violent’
Williams said the district does not distinguish between book review requests or consider whether complaints can be submitted as satire. The exams are administered by a committee made up of teachers, parents and administrators from the largely conservative community.
The district removed other titles, including Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” following a 2022 state law requiring districts to include parents in decisions about what constitutes ‘sensitive material.’
The committee posted its decision about the Bible in an online review request database and did not elaborate on its reasoning or which passages it found too violent or vulgar.
The decision comes as conservative parent activists, including state chapters of the group Parents United, descend on school boards and state homes across the United States, sowing alarm over how sex is talked about. and violence in schools.
Davis School District banned the Bible in schools, but left it in high schools
A copy of the complaint obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request shows the parent noted that the Bible contains instances of incest, prostitution and rape. The complaint derided a “bad faith process” and said the district was “transferring our children’s education, First Amendment rights and library access” to Parents United.
“Utah Parents United has left out one of today’s most sexual books: the Bible,” the parents’ lawsuit, dated Dec. 11, said. Later he added, “You will no doubt find that the Bible (under state law) has ‘no serious value to minors’ because it is pornographic under our new definition.”
The review board determined the Bible did not meet Utah’s definition of what is pornographic or indecent, which is why it remains in high schools, Williams said. The committee can make its own decisions under the new 2022 state law and has applied different standards based on student ages in response to multiple challenges, he said.
An anonymous party filed an appeal on Wednesday.
The Bible has long landed on the American Library Association’s most contested books list and was temporarily pulled from shelves last year in school districts in Texas and Missouri.
Concerns about new policies that could entrap the Bible have regularly cropped up in state houses during debates over efforts to expand book banning procedures. This includes Arkansas – one of the states that enacted legislation this year that would subject librarians to criminal penalties for providing materials “harmful” to minors, and creates a new process for the public to request that materials be moved to libraries.
“I don’t want people to be able to say, ‘I don’t want the Bible in the library,'” Arkansas Democratic State Senator Linda Chesterfield told a hearing.
Parents who have pushed for more say in their children’s education and the curricula and materials available in schools have argued that they should control how their children are taught on issues such as gender, sexuality and race.
EveryLibrary, a national political action committee, told The Associated Press last month it was tracking at least 121 different proposals introduced in legislatures this year targeting libraries, librarians, educators and access to materials. . The number of attempts to ban or restrict books in the United States in 2022 was the highest in 20 years, according to the American Library Association.
“If people are outraged by the banning of the Bible, they should be outraged by all the books that are censored in our public schools,” said Kasey Meehan, who runs the writers organization’s Freedom to Read program. PEN America.