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Davis Journal

Ban the Holy Bible from school shelves? Ridiculous

May 30, 2023 11:24AM ● By Bryan Gray

Once again, Davis County has made national news, this time as the site of school librarians being forced to remove “sensitive” material from the district’s public schools. The twist, as most of my readers know, is that one community member had the audacity to recommend the Holy Bible be banned.

Okay, I recognize that the Bible request is facetious, a sarcastic swipe at those who support the book ban at school libraries. The result, however, brought attention to the entire idea of school book removals since taking a few books off the shelf is rarely front-page news. 

Removing books was not generated by the Davis School District Board, individual school officials, or the PTA. The Utah Legislature passed the law in conjunction with state code banning pornographic or “harmful materials.”  It detailed what may be “sexually explicit” including language that a book could still be retained if it was judged to have serious literary, political, scientific, or artistic value when taken as a whole. One word or one reference would not necessarily be grounds for removal.

Of course, the Bible would fall under the “taken as a whole” exception. The citizen complaining about it noted correctly that it has references to incest, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, rape, and infanticide. Taken as a whole, however, it’s silly to say the Bible is, as the complainant says, “sex-ridden pornography.”

The Bible will remain on the shelf, but I’m glad the parent cast a light on the issue of banning library books in schools. The parents complaining about books represented only a handful of those with children in the Davis schools. Of the some 50 books they spotlighted, 33 were removed and 16 were retained at least at the high school level.

Some of the books removed offer a glimpse of adolescent anxiety with gender and boy-girl relationships – and it’s exactly these books that can offer help to many young men and women who feel ostracized. Junior high, for instance, is complicated. Everybody is trying to figure out who they heck they are and trying not to be pigeonholed as one kind of oddball or another. It is especially trying to a new kid, or a 13-year-old who feels scared of communicating with his parents or a religious leader.

As psychologists and therapists continually note, a book about a struggling or questioning teen may be the difference between acknowledging someone is different and suicide.

Forcing a book to be removed also removes a parent’s responsibility for watching what their child is reading while denying other parents who think differently. Granted, a teen or parent can purchase a “banned book” or read it online, but libraries are the main centers for no-cost information.  Some families cannot afford to buy books. 

Yes, sexually explicit language may be disturbing. But a description of a sex act is not as harmful to a 15-year-old as an intruder walking into a school with an assault weapon. 

Bryan Gray, a longtime Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front.λ