Utah district returns Bible to school libraries after reversal of parent-led ban

The Bible will return to school libraries in Utah after education leaders reversed a decision by a parent-led panel to ban it on grounds of “vulgarity or violence”.

The Davis school district, north of Salt Lake City, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to accept a recommendation by a subcommittee of three of its members to reinstate the book to middle and elementary school shelves.

“The appeal committee determined that the Bible has significant, serious value for minors which outweighs the violent or vulgar content it contains,” the district said in a statement seemingly critical of the parent majority that recommended the ban.

“The committee-based process … allows for appeals to be considered when a committee’s decision seems to be at odds with community values. The process takes time and it isn’t perfect, but it is working.”

The district is still considering a separate complaint seeking the removal of the Book of Mormon, the foundational text of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The wrangling over the Bible placed Davis county in the middle of a national debate over removals of books from public schools, a push driven by conservatives targeting material that contains references to gender identity or sexuality.

Utah passed a law last year allowing parents to request the removal of books containing “pornographic or indecent material”. In December one parent complained that the King James Bible was “one of the most sex-ridden books around”.

The original panel concluded that it did not violate the Utah statute known as the bright line law, but was age inappropriate for all but high school libraries.

“Within days of the announcement of this determination, the district received several appeal requests and immediately began processing appeals,” the Davis school district statement said.

“Some in the community have intimated that the initial committee’s decision, or the district’s policy/process, have been intentionally manipulated to undermine Utah’s sensitive materials law. This is wholly untrue. The district has always acted with intent to uphold the law and maintain school libraries free from harmful material.”

The district says it has reviewed 60 books to date, with 37 removed from all school libraries due to bright line rule violations and 14 restricted at some grade levels “due to age appropriateness”.

The statement did not address the complaint over the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith, the church founder who published it in 1830, claimed was translated from inscriptions of prophets on golden plates.

The request to remove the book, which church members typically study alongside the Bible, referenced violence including battles, beheadings and kidnappings.

A backlash against school book-banning efforts is under way in other states. The Lake county school district in Florida, and the state’s board of education, were sued on Tuesday by a group of students and the authors of a children’s book about a penguin family with two fathers, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

According to the lawsuit, the decision to remove And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two male penguins hatching a chick at New York’s Central Park zoo, is unconstitutional, with Lake county having “no legitimate pedagogical reason for its decision”.

The book fell foul of the Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s so-called “don’t say gay” law, that bans classroom discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in any of the state’s classrooms through 12th grade.

Title: Utah district returns Bible to school libraries after reversal of parent-led ban
URL: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/jun/21/utah-bible-school-libraries-ban-reversed
Source: World news: Religion | guardian.co.uk
Source URL: https://www.theguardian.com/world/religion
Date: June 21, 2023 at 03:30PM
Feedly Board(s): Religion