Oklahoma Bill Would Allow Parents to Remove Sexually Themed Books From School Libraries

By Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan
January 4, 2022 Updated: January 4, 2022

A new bill proposed in Oklahoma state Senate would give parents the power to request certain books be pulled from the library of their children’s school, and to collect at least $10,000 for every day the school refuses to do so.

Senate Bill 1142, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge, would allow parents of children in the state’s public schools to file a written request to remove any books that “make as their primary subject the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity.”

Removal requests can also be made on books that are “of a sexual nature that a reasonable parent or legal guardian would want to know of or approve of prior to their child being exposed to it,” according to the text of the bill.

If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect for the 2022-2023 school year and apply to all public school districts and public charter schools in Oklahoma. Schools will have 30 days to take the book down upon receiving the request, otherwise the librarian must be fired and banned from working at any public school for two years.

In addition, the complainant “may seek monetary damages including a minimum of $10,000 per day the book requested for removal is not removed,” as well as compensation for attorney fees and court costs.

In an interview with McAlester News-Capital, Standridge said his proposal is meant to give parents more control over what their children are exposed to at school. Some of the titles he said could raise parental concerns include “Trans Teen Survival Guide,” “A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns,” “Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities,” and “The Art of Drag.”

“I just think that those are overly sexualized,” Standridge told the newspaper. “I think parents and grandparents, guardians should have a say on whether their kids are exposed to those books. If they want them, they can take [their children] to their local library.”

The issue of parents seeking to ban books they deem harmful to their children gained national attention last year following Virginia’s gubernatorial race, which saw the defeat of Democratic candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

As governor, McAuliffe in 2016 vetoed what was known as the “Beloved Bill,” a measure that would have made Virginia the first state to require schools to warn parents when an assigned book includes sexually explicit content and to provide an alternative book at a parent’s request. When his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, brought the matter up during a debate, McAuliffe defended the veto, saying, “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions.”

“I stopped the bill and I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he added.

Bill Pan