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'One of Most Sex-Ridden Books Around' Returned to School Shelves

Utah's Davis School District reverses decision
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
Updated Jun 21, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
School District Pulls 'One of the Most Sex-Ridden Books Around'
The Bible is read aloud at the Utah Capitol on Nov. 25, 2013.   (Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
UPDATE Jun 21, 2023 2:30 AM CDT

Bibles will return to the shelves in a northern Utah school district that provoked an outcry after it banned them from middle and elementary schools last month, the AP reports. Officials from the Davis School District said at a board meeting Tuesday that the district had determined the sacred text was age-appropriate for all district libraries. In allowing the Bible to be accessible to students regardless of their grade level, the board sided with 70 people who filed appeals after it was banned last month. “Based on their assessment of community standards, the appeal committee determined that The Bible has significant, serious value for minors which outweighs the violent or vulgar content it contains,” the committee wrote in a decision published along with school board materials.

Jun 3, 2023 6:00 AM CDT

The Good Book is being treated like a bad book in Utah after a parent frustrated by efforts to ban materials from schools convinced a suburban district that some Bible verses were too vulgar or violent for younger children. The 72,000-student Davis School District north of Salt Lake City removed the Bible from its elementary and middle schools while keeping it in high schools after a committee reviewed the text in response to a parental complaint, per the AP. The district has removed other titles, including Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and John Green's Looking for Alaska, following a 2022 state law requiring districts to include parents in decisions over what constitutes "sensitive material."

District rep Williams said the district doesn't differentiate between requests to review books and doesn't consider whether complaints may be submitted as satire. The reviews are handled by a committee made up of teachers, parents, and administrators in the largely conservative community. The committee published its decision about the Bible in an online database of review requests and didn't elaborate on its reasoning. The decision comes as conservative parent activists, including state-based chapters of the group Parents United, descend on school boards and statehouses throughout the US, sowing alarm about how sex and violence are talked about in schools. Due to the district's privacy policy, it’s unknown who made the request for the Bible to be banned from Davis schools or if they're affiliated with any larger group.

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A copy of the complaint obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune through a public records request shows that the parent noted the Bible contains instances of incest, prostitution, and rape. "Utah Parents United left off one of the most sex-ridden books around: the Bible," the parent's complaint, dated Dec. 11, said. The review committee determined the Bible didn't qualify under Utah's definition of what's pornographic or indecent, which is why it remains in high schools, Williams said. An unnamed party filed an appeal on Wednesday. The Bible has long found itself on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books and was temporarily pulled off shelves last year in school districts in Texas and Missouri. "If folks are outraged about the Bible being banned, they should be outraged about all the books that are being censored in our public schools," said Kasey Meehan, who directs the Freedom to Read program at the writers organization PEN America.

(More Bible stories.)

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