Certain schools in Utah will now be at least temporarily without copies of the Bible among book selections made available to students.
The development has taken place amid a nationwide push from many conservatives to dramatically restrict access to books deemed suspicious or inappropriate. The actual texts swept into these crusades have often covered LGBTQ+ communities, some observers have noted. The lists of challenged volumes have been extensive, with the poem written by Amanda Gorman for Joe Biden’s inauguration as president in 2020 even placed under access limitations in one school environment in southern Florida. Now, a Utah parent has used essentially the same framework that those challenging these other texts have been utilizing to temporarily secure the Bible’s removal. The ancient religious text, of course, includes many explicit descriptions of sex and violence.
The school district where, after a review committee’s decision, the Bible will be unavailable to elementary and middle school students is the Davis School District, which is in the Salt Lake City area. “You’ll no doubt find that the Bible, under Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-1227, has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition,” the parent who was responsible for the original complaint wrote in that document, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The committee reviewing the complaint actually decided the Bible didn’t violate the standards in the recently passed legal rules that the parent cited, though they removed it from access in select schools anyway, citing vulgarity and violence.
Predictably, there’s already been an appeal from another parent, and a different committee in the school district will now be handling further legs of the dispute. The board of education in the Davis School District will make final decisions.
In systems for book challenges prominently available in Florida, challenged titles are generally to be removed from access right away — meaning that there and in locations using a similar approach, just making a challenge to a book’s accessibility is enough to secure the title’s removal. A federal lawsuit was filed against local school officials in the northern Florida jurisdiction Escambia County by a publisher, advocacy group, and authors after they moved forward with restricting certain titles despite decisions to the contrary from their review board.