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Book ban lawmaker “very sad” that a parent is using his law to ban the “sex-ridden” Bible

Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory
Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory Photo: Utah House of Representatives

A Utah parent has challenged the Bible under a state law banning “pornographic or indecent” material in schools. The law has been used to remove books by mostly LGBTQ+ and Black authors from shelves.

And it’s making the Republican lawmaker who introduced the book ban bill “very sad.”

In a book challenge submitted to Davis School District last December, the unnamed parent called the Bible “one of the most sex-ridden books around,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune, and asked that it be removed from school shelves for review.

“I thank the Utah Legislature and Utah Parents United for making this bad faith process so much easier and way more efficient,” the parent, whose name and address were redacted, wrote. “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!”

Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory (R), who sponsored H.B. 374, described the request as a political stunt that would “drain school resources.”

“There was a purpose to the bill and this kind of stuff, it’s very unfortunate,” he said. “There are any number of studies that directly link sexualization and hyper-sexualization with sexual exploitation and abuse. Certainly, those are things we don’t want in schools.”

“For people to minimize that and to make a mockery of it is very sad,” he complained.

Utah Parents United, a conservative group that advocates for parental rights in education, has led the effort to ban the books in school districts across the state. The group’s curriculum director Brooke Stephens went so far as to file a police report claiming that 47 books available in Davis School District libraries violated state law because they contained “pornography.”

In response to the group’s efforts, Utah lawmakers passed H.B. 374, which requires public K–12 schools to remove books containing “pornographic or indecent material.”

Included in the December 11 Bible challenge was an eight-page list of passages the parent says are considered unacceptable under the law.

“Incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape, and even infanticide,” the parent, who noted that they have actually read the Bible, wrote. “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,” they continued. “If the books that have been banned so far are any indication for way lesser offenses, this should be a slam dunk.”

Davis School District spokesperson Christopher Williams said this week that the Bible challenge has been given to a committee to review. “We don’t differentiate between one request and another,” he said. “We see that as the work that we do.”

In their Bible challenge, the parent accuses the state of “ceding our children’s education, First Amendment Rights, and library access to a white supremacist hate group like Utah Parents United,” noting that Davis School District has been investigated for racism. A 2021 U.S. Department of Justice investigation found that the district had for years intentionally ignored “serious and widespread” racial harassment in its schools.

“We believe in following the law. That’s all we’re asking schools to do,” Utah Parents United said. The group has claimed that they are not specifically targeting books about racism or LGBTQ+ themes.

But among the 52 books that were removed from Alpine School District shelves last summer, there was at least one that appeared to have been challenged merely due to its title; SEX: If You’re Scared of the Truth Don’t Read This! argues in favor of abstinence. The list also included LGBTQ+-related titles like Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer, George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, and Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy.

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