SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A Utah law passed in 2022 is now being used to challenge dozens of books in schools across the state for material that is considered by some to be inappropriate and even pornographic. Since the law took effect, the Davis School District has had 81 requests to review books. One of the most recent: The Holy Bible.
The Davis School District has an eight-page policy to guide the selection (and removal) of materials across its 92 schools.
“It is a process,” district spokesperson Chris Williams told ABC4. “Anyone who requests a book to be reviewed has to have standing.” He explained that to have standing, a person must be a student, the parent or guardian of a student, an employee, or a school board member. Students, parents and employees can only request a book review for their prospective school.
So far, there have been 81 requests. The district has removed 33 books as a result. The district has retained about 30 books after reviewing them, and a handful are still under the review process.
“We don’t jump to conclusions, we go through the entire process. We don’t blow off one request because we think it’s silly,” Williams stated.
The request can be made on the district’s website, however, the requester needs to include reasoning for the book’s removal. For example, the request for the Bible’s review included 49 pages of bible verses that could be deemed inappropriate under the law.
“This has been very time consuming,” Williams said. “We have 15 committees that have been established for this purpose.” There are currently eight committees still working on reviews. These are called Sensitive Materials Review Committees. Under district policy, a committee cannot have less than seven people and must be made up of an odd number of people (for voting purposes). A committee must include one district administrator, a licensed teacher who is teaching English Language Arts, a librarian, and at least four parents who have children enrolled in one of the district’s schools.
The first hurdle a book under review has to overcome is the definition of indecent public displays as outlined in the law. This includes, but is not limited to, a description of illicit sex or sexual immorality. This can include descriptions of human genitals in the state of sexual stimulation, sexual intercourse, sodomy, masturbation, erotic touching of the pubic region, buttock or female breast.
If a book isn’t illicitly sexual, the committee will also review it for harsh language, violence, and other references that may be inappropriate for a specific age.
That is the criteria under which the Bible will be reviewed. Williams added: “So, the committee is looking at that right now, looking at the law, seeing where it falls in the law that the legislature has put forth.”
Ideally, the committee will finish the review within 60 days.
Williams wasn’t sure how many schools have a copy of the Bible. However, across the district, it isn’t the only religious text. “We have the Quran, we have the Torah, we have the Bible, we have the Book of Mormon,” he stated.
If found in violation of the law, the Bible will be removed from all schools in the district — as was the case with the 33 previous books which were removed.
The district has a policy that has been around for years. Williams explained: “A parent doesn’t have to go through this entire process of having a book reviewed if they don’t want their individual child to have access to it, they can simply call a school administrator.”
A book that is under review is not removed from school shelves. It is only removed if the committee finds it inappropriate.