Oklahoma May Allow Parents To Ban Books With LGBTQ Or “Sexual” Content In Libraries

A poster advertising ‘Forbidden Books Week’, an annual event celebrating efforts to end book censorship, at the Queens Public Library – Photo: Queens Public Library, via Facebook.

A bill in Oklahoma would allow parents to ban books they claim to have “sexual content” from school libraries, a move likely to be emulated in other states as the Republican Party seeks to use them. parental rights as the next electoral issue.

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Rob Standridge (R-Norman) would prohibit school libraries from “maintaining[ing] in its inventory or promote[ing] books that focus on the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, gender identity or gender identity ”, as well as “sexually oriented” books that parents would like to know about before their child is exposed to the book.

Under the bill, if even a parent objects to a book that meets these criteria, they can request that the book be withdrawn, and the school has 30 days to withdraw it. If a school does not remove the book, fines of $ 10,000 per day would be imposed on the school district for making the material available to students.

As written, there is some ambiguity regarding Standridge’s bill. For example, it is not clear whether a novel featuring an LGBTQ character whose sexual orientation is not the “main topic” or focus of the book would be banned, or whether any a reference, even in passing, to LGBTQ content or characters would suffice for conservative parents to label the book as “sexual in nature” and therefore banned.

Standridge told the McAlester News-Capital that it was motivated by complaints from parents and grandparents of public school students about books with sexual content for a few years. He cited examples of books that would be banned under his bill, such as the Survival Guide for Trans Teens, Quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, A Quick and Easy Guide to They / Them Pronouns, and The art of drag.

While he acknowledges that all of the books he opposes deal with LGBTQ issues, Standridge insists his bill would apply to all straight books that contain sexual content, such as Fifty shades of Grey – but he also says that he could not find examples of such books in school libraries. He also said he was not concerned that schools would also be forced to remove the Bible because of its sexual content, as he argues that schools do not have Bibles on library shelves.

If a school district refuses to remove a book, parents should take legal action and get an adjudicator, he added.

“Most likely, these things will end up in court,” Standridge said. “I guess schools won’t comply and parents will have to seek an injunction. It will be up to the trier of fact. They may very well disagree with the parent and say that reasonable parents would want their children exposed to transgender, gay, and other sexually oriented books. I would doubt it.

Critics of the bill question its constitutionality and argue that the bill will disproportionately result in the ban or removal of all LGBTQ-related literature.

Morgan Allen, director of the Oklahomans Center for Equality, notes that similar bills in other states have been proposed but ultimately rejected because they are unconstitutional. She also objected to the idea that LGBTQ-themed literature “heals” or overly sexualizes children, instead claiming it gives LGBTQ characters or locked-in youth they can relate to.

“These books are here to give our kids the language they need to express what they’re already feeling, and that’s it,” Allen said. “These books are only there to affirm and show children their love for who they are, and that there are other people like them, that they are not alone. And if we take these books out of their libraries, then we’re saying their schools and the people in those schools don’t see them for who they are, and they’re alone in those schools. And they are not alone.

She added that by introducing bills like Standridge’s, lawmakers are sending “negative messages” to LGBTQ youth, “telling them they can’t be who they are, that they should be ashamed of themselves. who they are ”, which can ultimately lead to these young people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. Already, she said, nearly one in four LGBTQ youth in Oklahoma said in a recent poll that they attempted suicide, a rate well above the national youth suicide rate of 7%.

The Oklahoma Library Association said in a statement it was “disappointed” with Standridge for filing the legislation without contacting them first. They also said the bill was redundant as there are already procedures in place for parents to file complaints and demand a review of all reported books.

Photo: Cockburn Libraries / Flickr

Standridge’s push for a book ban comes as the National Republican Party, emboldened by its victories in statewide races in Virginia, adopted parental rights as an issue, denouncing schools and teachers, curriculum content and the alleged “indoctrination” of students, and seeking to ban books or censor courses deemed “inappropriate” by social conservatives.

Efforts by socially conservative parents have mushroomed across the country, attacking school boards and public libraries for objectionable content. In Wyoming, local prosecutors, bowing down to public pressure, considered jailing librarians for breaking obscenity laws for even having LGBTQ-themed or sex-themed books in their collections.

Likewise, in Fairfax County, Va., The school board has temporarily withdrawn two controversial books – Homosexual gender, by Maia Kobabe, and lawn boy, by Jonathan Evison, which were also banned in other school districts in Texas and Iowa – due to the explicit sexual content in the books. A committee of parents, teachers and students ultimately decided to put the books back on the high school library shelves after deciding that sexual content was not the primary focus of the books and did not contain, as one claims, scenes containing pedophilia.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R) ordered the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Board of Education, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to develop statewide standards to prevent ” pornography ”and other“ obscene content ”to enter. school libraries and requiring parents to be informed of how to file a formal grievance to request that objectionable books be removed from library shelves.

See also:

Crunch Fitness tells members to stop having sex in men’s locker rooms

Lil Nas X accuses music industry of ‘disinfecting’ LGBTQ artists

Arizona Republican wants to jail doctors who care for transgender youth

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