Following backlash over library books, state school board seeks to draft new library policy rules

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The Utah State Board of Education will act “quickly but carefully” to issue a new rule on how school libraries choose and review content, members said at a meeting Friday.

A USBE rule is similar to the law and is legally binding for districts and state charter schools.

Council’s Laws and Licensing Committee Responds to Parents’ Appeals to delete books school libraries, they say, contain inappropriate and pornographic images or descriptions. Others worry, however, that the efforts could lead to censorship, particularly of books from or about various perspectives.

“As difficult as it may be and as it is controversial, I think the board needs to set minimum standards,” said committee chair Carol Lear.

During the reunion’s public comment period, Davis County parent Sarah Johnson read a passage about sex from “The Benefits of Being a Wallflower,” a young adult novel about the first year of life. ‘an introverted teenager in high school. It has frequently appeared on the American Library Association’s annual list of most contested books.

“It’s exactly like 10% of what I found in my children’s schools,” she said, adding that she had sent her son on a “secret educational mission” to check out other books. that worried her. “I am livid.”

Two USBE library specialists spoke about best policy practices, noting that considerations are needed both for the selection and maintenance of records as well as for how to handle complaints and requests for removal of documents. books. Not all districts and charter schools have such policies, they said.

Naomi Watkins, Library Media Specialist at USBE, said librarians seek input from many stakeholders when selecting materials, paying particular attention to how books support classroom instruction. , literacy and recreational reading for students.

Review policies to challenge a book should be reviewed and updated regularly, said library media coordinator Sara Wiebke. They should also be posted publicly on the school website.

She said the books should not be taken down without an official complaints and review committee, in which school leaders, librarians, teachers, parents and students read the book in its entirety and vote to see if he should stay. She noted that librarians should not be punished if a book is ultimately found to be inappropriate.

Board member Natalie Cline rebuffed the latter point and said parents should play a bigger role in the selection process.

“Yes [an inappropriate book] was put there accidentally so it needs to be removed immediately, ”she said. “If this is done knowingly, it is neglect and criminality, and we must take strong action against those who intentionally attempt to sexualize our children. “

Lear said the council would need a thorough review of constitutional standards before it can move forward with its rule, both with respect to First Amendment rights and what is considered inappropriate material.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has wrestled with this for many, many decades,” she said. “So it’s not legally clear, it’s not even morally clear to me. As a parent, as a grandparent, I am much more concerned with violence and guns, and I would like gun books to be reviewed so carefully by a review board. than are sex documents.


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