Utah school district bans Bible from elementary and middle schools citing “vulgarity and violence”

Utah’s Davis School District made the controversial decision to remove the Bible from elementary and secondary schools after a parent complained about the presence of vulgar and violent verses they deemed inappropriate for young children. This move follows the district’s compliance with a 2022 state law requiring parental input in decisions about “sensitive material,” resulting in the removal of other titles like “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ” by Sherman Alexie and “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.

The Davis School District, with its 72,000 students, has kept the Bible in high schools and removed it from the lower grades. A committee, made up of teachers, parents, and administrators, conducted a scripture review in response to the parent’s complaint. While the district has not disclosed the specific reasons cited in the complaint, it has confirmed that the Book of Mormon, the signature scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, is also under scrutiny. . District spokesman Chris Williams has refrained from disclosing details of the review request, including the reasons for it and whether it was filed by the same person who complained about the Bible.

Davis School District policy does not distinguish between requests for review or consider whether they may be satirical. The committee reviews all requests, regardless of their nature, and makes decisions based on input from teachers, parents, and administrators. The committee’s decision regarding the Bible was posted on an online database of review requests, but the reasoning behind it, as well as the specific passages found to be objectionable, were not disclosed.

This development occurs within a broader context of conservative parent activists raising concerns about discussions related to sex and violence in schools. Groups like Parents United, including state-level chapters, are active in influencing school boards and legislatures across the United States. However, due to the Davis School District’s privacy policy, the identity of the person who requested the removal of the Bible and their possible affiliation with a larger organization are unknown.

A copy of the complaint obtained through a public records request highlighted instances of incest, prostitution and rape in the Bible. The whistleblower criticized the district for caving in to Parents United and accused them of compromising children’s education, First Amendment rights and library access. Referring to the Bible as a “sex-charged” book, the complaint argued that it should be considered pornographic under the new definition established by state law, which deems the material unsuitable for minors.

However, the review committee determined that the Bible did not meet Utah’s criteria for pornography or indecency, leading to its retention in high schools. Chris Williams clarified that the committee has the authority to make independent decisions under the new state law and has applied various standards based on the age of students in response to multiple challenges. An undisclosed party has filed an appeal regarding this decision.

The Bible has often faced challenges, earning its place on the American Library Association’s list of most questioned books. In the past, it has been temporarily removed from the Texas and Missouri school districts. Concerns about possible policies affecting the Bible have been raised during discussions in state legislatures regarding book ban procedures. For example, Arkansas recently passed a law that imposes criminal penalties on librarians who provide “harmful” materials to minors and establishes a process for public requests to relocate materials within libraries.

The push for greater parental control over their children’s education and curriculum, including the availability of certain materials in schools, has led parents to argue that they should have a say in how topics such as gender, sexuality and race. According to the American Library Association, there has been an increase in attempts to ban or restrict books in the United States, reaching a 20-year high in 2022. Organizations

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