UTAH COUNTY (ABC4) – Alpine School District, the largest school district in the state, has pulled 52 books from their shelves for review. This is happening in response to the recent passing of House Bill 374, which prohibits sensitive materials in schools, and comes after an internal audit brought on by parent concerns.
All Boys Aren’t Blue, Out of Darkness, The Nowhere Girls — these titles are just a handful of many that are on the list of the 52 books Alpine School District has temporarily removed from their shelves.
Utah Parents United, a parent advocacy group, is calling this a big win and posted the list of books to their Twitter.
“We really feel when those types of materials are removed from children, that is a win for children. It’s a win for them because they are not exposed any longer to this harmful content,” said Corinne Johnson, Public Relations Director with Utah Parents United.
Some Utah parents, hearing this news, say it is a step in the right direction.
“I send my child to school, I don’t want to be worried that he’s going to come across rated X content in the public school library and I think most parents don’t want their children to be exposed to that while they’re at school,” said Julie Behling, a mother to a seven-year-old child.
Alpine’s school board is looking into creating a policy to further evaluate these books, which will determine if they return to the shelves or are removed permanently.
Katie Wegner, the co-chair with the Utah Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, said that removing the books before that policy is in place is not in accordance with the law.
“From watching the board meeting, it was clear to us the committee didn’t fully read the 52 books and this goes against state and federal law because it’s illegal to remove books when you’re not taking them as a whole,” she said.
Others also shared concerns about what books were pulled, when many of them share the experiences of marginalized groups.
“There are 21 of the 52 titles that involve LGBTQ characters or themes and that’s really concerning to us because with such high suicide rates among that population, we really need to advocate for that small portion of our community that is growing larger as more students are choosing to identify and finding the courage to accept their identity,” said Tricia Fenton, the former President of the Utah Education Library Media Association.
The Alpine School District sent ABC4 the following statement:
Based upon legislation passed from HB374 regarding sensitive materials, school districts are required to have a process for identifying materials to be included or disqualified from use in libraries and schools based on 53G-10-103, Sensitive Instructional Materials, state and federal law, Board Rule R277-0217, Educator Standards & LEA Reporting, or based on age-appropriate content.
Following these laws and regulations, Alpine School District is still in process of reviewing our procurement processes of library materials. As designated in the law, a committee will further review books to determine whether another appropriate designation of restricted or removed status is needed. Some books may be held at a school, waiting for local board policy adoption to continue a formal committee review.
The school district’s new policy could go into place over the next few weeks, determining what happens with these books and the district has flagged 32 more for review.