Utah School District is removing the Bible from elementary and middle schools

The Davis School District Book Review Committee made the decision, despite an appeal from another parent.

(Tribune File Photo) In this photo taken Monday, November 25, 2013, the Bible is read at the Utah Capitol. In the Spring of 2023, after a parent challenged the Bible’s whereabouts in public schools, the Davis School District voted to remove the book from elementary and middle schools while keeping it in secondary schools.

Initially, a parent filed a lawsuit challenging the removal of the Bible from Davis School District libraries, citing passages describing sex and violence.

The district said there should be a review of the book. And it was.

Now, the county-appointed committee charged with reviewing the complaint and deciding whether the Bible is accessible to students has made its decision: Davis high schools will keep the religious text on their shelves.

But it’s being removed from elementary and middle schools because it contains “vulgarity or violence.”

That book challenge decision — which drew national attention when it was first reported in March — will go into effect immediately, Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune this week.

He believes there are seven or eight elementary and middle schools in the district that have copies of the Bible that will now be removed at the end of the school year.

The Bible passage was first challenged in December by a parent, who wrote in his complaint that he was frustrated that books have been removed from school libraries in recent months – with conservative groups across the country and in Utah targeting literature that they label as “inappropriate”. and which has focused particularly on books written about the LGBTQ community.

So the parents submitted their request for a Bible review, saying it was time to remove “one of the most sex-oriented books out there.”

“Incest, masturbation, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape and even infanticide,” the parents wrote in their application, listing issues they found concerning in the religious text. “You will no doubt find that the Bible under the Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-1227 has “no serious values ​​for minors” as it is pornographic under our new definition.”

The code cited is the Utah law passed in 2022 that bans any books with “pornographic or offensive” content from Utah schools, both in libraries and in the classroom.

According to the new code, something is indecent if it involves explicit sexual arousal, stimulation, masturbation, intercourse, sodomy, or fondling. According to prosecutors, in such situations, the material does not need to be “considered as a whole” or left on the shelf during a review. If there is a scene with any of these acts, it should be removed immediately.

Books removed from Utah schools under this tutelage include Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Gender Queer, a graphic novel about the author’s journey to self-identity.

Along with the complaint about the Bible, the parents included an eight-page listing of Scriptures they found offensive and worth reading.

Williams said that the district committee that reviewed the Bible concluded that it “contains no sensitive material as defined by Utah Code 76-10-1227, 76-10-1201, or 76-10-1203.” However, the group decided to limit the book’s availability to the higher grade levels.

He has previously indicated that the book challenge would be taken seriously like any other complaint.

However, the committee’s decision has already been appealed by another parent, said Williams, who wants the Bible for students of all ages to stay on the shelves.

To handle this appeal, the district will now form a committee consisting of three members of the Davis School District Board of Education. They review the original complaint and appeal and present a recommendation to the full board for a vote.

The board will make the final decision at an upcoming public meeting. A date for this has not yet been set.

If the board decides the Bible is appropriate for all students, it will be put back on the shelves, Williams said.

Additional religious texts—including the Book of Mormon, the Torah, and the Qur’an—are currently available for borrowing without age restrictions in the Davis School District. These were not contested.

Justin Scaccy

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