Politics

Oklahoma bill would fire teachers for offending Christian morals by teaching biology

Oklahoma State Senator Rob Standridge
Oklahoma State Senator Rob StandridgePhoto: Oklahoma State Senate/screenshot

Oklahoma Sen. Rob Standridge (R) has introduced legislation that would allow parents to sue any public school educators who teach anything “in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.” Standridge has also introduced a bill that would give individual parents the power to demand the removal of any book from school shelves that they believe contains LGBTQ content.

While the proposed laws are reminiscent of religious edicts imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Standridge, a Trump follower, isn’t backing down from his hateful attacks on the LGBTQ community.

Related: School district bans books on gender identity and students’ chosen pronouns

The bill would allow parents to sue teachers for $10,000 “per incident, per individual.” The fine would need to be paid by the teacher “from personal resources” and the educator cannot “receive any assistance from individuals or groups.” If the teacher is unable to pay and receives assistance, they will be fired immediately and unable to teach in the state for five years.

“A biology teacher who explains evolution could be ratted out by a Creationist who’s failing science class. A health teacher who educates students about different forms of birth control won’t be in that classroom for very long if an abstinence-promoting teenager is on the roster,” journalist Hemant Mehta explained.

“A history teacher who correctly describes the Founding Fathers as a mix of religious and non-religious individuals could be a target of conservative evangelicals who believe Christian pseudo-historian David Barton’s lies. An English teacher who wants to challenge kids with controversial thought-provoking literature would be forced to stick to only the blandest books.”

Standridge’s book banning legislation states that schools should be banned from carrying texts that cover “the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity or books that are of a sexual nature.”

It claims these books must be banned because “a reasonable parent or legal guardian would want to know of or approve of [them] prior to their child being exposed to it.”

According to the bill, school staff would be required to remove any such book within 30 days of a parent’s request. If the staff doesn’t comply, they will be terminated. Not only that, but they’ll be blocked from being hired at any other public school for two years.

And it gets even wilder.

The bill would also entitle parents who have requested the removal of a book to seek damages in the amount of a minimum of $10,000 per day for each day the book remains on the shelves.

Standridge has named specific books that concern him, including Trans Teen Survival Guide and A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, calling them “overly sexualized.”

In a Facebook post, Standridge called on the local school system to remove a book by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye.

The book tells the story of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grew up following the Great Depression. Set in 1941, the story is about how she is consistently regarded as “ugly” due to her mannerisms and dark skin. As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with whiteness.

“I am struggling here trying to think of any parents that would read this to their child,” Standridge wrote. “But what parent would want a person they probably never or hardly met, and certainly whose belief system is unknown, read or recommend a book with such a scene to their teenage child.”

“It is a parent’s responsibility and exclusive right to guard (yes, censor) what materials are appropriate for their child. I am certain there are thousands/millions of other books that are much more appropriate and we can save these books for once a child becomes an adult and is free to pick their reading materials outside of the exclusive guardianship of their parents.”

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