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Proposed law could see banning of school books that include nudity, sex

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CCAC North Library
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Oklahoma schools could see the banning of books under a proposed state law.

Earlier this month Rep. Sherrie Conley of Newcastle told a legislative committee that House Bill 4013 amends the criminal code to make it illegal to give "obscene material" to a child. Obscene material is defined as anything in any format “that depicts or describes or includes nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse.”

The bill also says obscene material is defined as “offensive to the prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors.” Obscene material could also appeal to the “shameful” interests of minors and is “utterly without redeeming social importance.”

Conley’s hope is that school boards in the state will be compelled to ban certain books under the law. Rep. Jason Lowe asked about depictions of historical violence.

“If you want our children to learn the history of rape, and incest, and gang rape, and sexual violence, then I would say vote no on the bill,” said Conley.

Conley didn’t answer a question on how this law would apply to the Bible, but said giving a child a biology textbook wouldn’t count since it’s the “grooming” purposes of the adult that are important.

“Sex education books would not be included. Unless it was written in a way that’s intended. It depends on the intent,” said Conley.

Last week Attorney General John O’Connor said he’s no longer pursuing an investigation into some 50 school books that were the focus of parental complaints. Works like The Bluest Eye, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies were at issue.

O’Connor said legislation like Conley’s will address the complaints of parents.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.