FARMINGTON, Utah (KSL.com) — The Bible has been removed from all elementary and middle school libraries throughout the Davis School District after someone challenged its contents.
A committee tasked with reviewing books that fall under review for sexual content last week determined that the Bible will be retained in district high schools, but removed from all elementary and middle schools, Christopher Williams, Davis School District’s director of communication, told KSL.com.
In lieu of the initial ruling — which came last week — a new appeal to the ruling was filed Wednesday, asking for the district to retain the Bible in all district schools, meaning the religious book will again be reviewed by a committee.
Review committees for the district are made up of an odd number of people and each committee includes a facilitator selected by the district’s teaching and learning director, at least one administrator working in a district department or school, a licensed teacher who is teaching English language arts or another relevant subject in a district school, a librarian who works in a district school and a minimum of four parents with students enrolled in a district school, according to district policy.
The challenge was originally filed with the district on Dec. 11, 2022.
“The district review committee reviewed the book in its entirety and determined that the book does not contain sensitive material as defined in Utah Code § 76-10-1227,§ 76-10-1201 or § 76-10-1203,” read the rationale explaining the decision in the district database. “Therefore, according to Utah law, the book has been retained in school library circulation.”
The district’s online database for book challenges said the decision was to “Retain for High School,” but doesn’t specifically say whether the Bible can be found in elementary and middle school libraries throughout the district.
Williams said the district estimates that seven to eight elementary and junior high schools had the Bible on its shelves prior to the committee’s ruling.
“The committee also decided to retain the book in school library circulation only at the high school level based on age appropriateness due to vulgarity or violence,” Williams said. “That decision has since been appealed by an individual who would like it retained at all levels. It will now go to an appeals committee consisting of three members of the Davis School District Board of Education.”
“That committee will then make a recommendation to the full Board of Education whether to retain or remove it from school library circulation. The board will then make the final decision,” Williams said.
The Utah Legislature in 2022 approved the contentious HB374, which lawmakers have described as a way to weed out content found to be pornographic from K-12 libraries and classrooms.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, defines “sensitive material” as instructional materials that are pornographic or indecent, colloquially referred to as the “bright line” rule in state code.
Ivory told KSL in March that the challenge of the Bible is “a backhanded slap to parents that are simply trying to keep a healthy learning environment for all students in the schools. I have every confidence that no school district is going to consider the Bible as violating 76-10-1227,” which addresses descriptions and depictions of illicit sex or sexual immorality.
Utah Parents United, a conservative parents rights group that lobbied strongly for the passing of HB374 — along with the Legislature — was named in the initial request to review the Bible.
“I thank the Utah Legislature and Utah Parents United for making this bad faith process so much easier and way more efficient. Now we can all ban books and you don’t even need to read them or be accurate about it. Heck, you don’t even need to see the book! Ceding our children’s education, First Amendment Rights and library access to a … hate group like Utah Parents United seems like a wonderful idea for a school district literally under investigation for being racist,” the person wrote in their book review request.
The identity of the person who requested a review of the Bible was redacted in a copy of the challenge provided to KSL.com by Davis School District officials.
“Utah Parents United left off one of the most sex-ridden books around: The Bible,” the person wrote, noting that the Bible includes mentions of incest, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation and rape, among other things.
The individual also included an eight-page document of specific Bible verses to substantiate their claim that the Bible includes many examples of the sensitive materials that have led to the removal of other books.
“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. Get this PORN out of our schools! If the books that have been banned so far are any indication for way lesser offenses, this should be a slam dunk,” the person wrote.