Oklahoma School District Sues to Protect Book Selections

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Oklahoma School District Sues to Protect Book Selections

Oklahoma School District Sues to Protect Book Selections

An Oklahoma school district is turning to the courts to protect its book selections in high school libraries, following a campaign led by Oklahoma’s Republican State Superintendent, Ryan Walters, against “pornography.”

Controversy Over Two Specific Books

The controversy centers on two books : The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, both of which include descriptions of sexual assaults. These books do not contain pornography, as the described scenes are not intended to arouse the reader’s desire. “Edmond Public Schools is leading the fight to reintroduce pornography into schools,” Walters stated on social media, referencing the school district that offers these two books to high school students. “We see today that Edmond Public Schools is fighting to keep pornography on its shelves and defies our rule aimed at excluding its presence in the classroom.”

Legal Battle Against State Education Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Education, led by Walters, ordered Edmond Public Schools to remove these two books earlier in the year, after an agency committee deemed the books “pornographic” and containing “sexualized content.” The agency threatened to downgrade the school district’s accreditation status if it did not comply.

School District’s Stand on Book Selection Rights

The district has now asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to intervene and declare the agency’s rules regarding sexual content in books as an unconstitutional extension of executive power. “It’s not about books,” said Angela Grunewald, the superintendent of Edmond, on Tuesday. “It’s about who has the right to decide what books should be in a library and who can say what books should be removed.”

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Accusations by State Superintendent Walters

In a statement, Walters accused the school of wanting to “sell porn” instead of “focusing on education.”

Background of the Challenged Books

The Kite Runner tells the story of two boys in Afghanistan in the 1970s and is often challenged due to discussions of male sexual assault, depression, and attempted suicide. The Glass Castle is an autobiography about the author’s dysfunctional upbringing. It is frequently challenged due to the use of swear words and descriptions of child sexual abuse, as well as depictions of alcoholism.

Walters’ Stance on Book Banning and Controversial Statements

Walters has made book banning a central part of his tenure as State Superintendent. He appointed the hateful influencer Chaya Raichik, known online as “Libs of TikTok,” to sit on the state’s library media advisory committee, the same committee that declared The Kite Runner and The Glass Castle inappropriate for teenagers. Walters previously spread the transphobic lie that schools would provide litter boxes for students identifying as cats. He has also recently called teachers’ unions “terrorist organizations” and illegally attempted to impose rules banning LGBTQ+ books and access to restrooms for transgender individuals in schools.

Walters’ Educational Priorities

He also wishes for the Bible to be taught in schools.

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