Last Minute Bill Passes Through Senate Committee, Seeks To Ban Books About Sex And Sexuality


Tuesday, March 1st 2022, 5:25 pm


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Both the Senate and the House education committees had packed agendas Tuesday. 

But, at the last minute before the Senate Education committee Tuesday morning, two more measures were added.  

One of them is a controversial bill that seeks to ban classroom and library books that teach about sex and sexuality.  

SB 1142 passed 8 to 4.  

The bill prohibits public schools and libraries from having or promoting books that quote: “Make as their primary subject the study of sex, sexual lifestyles, or sexual activity.” 

The bill allows a student’s parent or legal guardian to submit requests for books to be removed and opens schools up to lawsuits if they do not comply with the request. 

The ACLU of Oklahoma Policy Director Cindy Nguyen expressed concern about this measure.  

“We know that young people deserve to have a factual and age-appropriate resource, especially when they have health related questions,” Nguyen said 

The ACLU of Oklahoma is tracking other bills that seek to regulate classroom content about race and gender. She says the hot button HB 1775 that passed last year banning so-called ‘critical race theory’ from being taught in K-12 schools opened the door to similar bills this year.  

“Last year we saw HB 1775 pass, and this year, because of that, we’ve seen a surplus of classroom censorship bills. We’ve seen about 25 plus being introduced this session alone,” she said.  

Nguyen says their organization is concerned about this legislation's impact on kids. 

“We see that when we censor books by an about people of color, 2S+LGBTQ people, about women and girls, it is not only discriminatory, but also contrary to our first amendment rights. When we ban these books, it devastates an educator's ability to talk and tackle real world issues we know their students are already discussing.” 

In Senate committee, Chair Adam Pugh allowed SB 1142 to be heard, but also voted against it, saying districts already have processes in place at the local level to handle concerns about classroom content.  

On Wednesday, the State Powers committee is expecting to hear a law that would make some changes to how discrimination and content concerns in the classroom are filed.  

Representative Sherri Conley’s HB 4015 would add the option to submit a complaint to the Oklahoma Attorney General for a broader range of alleged violations. 

This would be in addition to the ability to file a complaint with the state board of education for violations of HB 1775. 

The state board of education has received two such complaints since HB 1775 emergency rules went into effect in September. Both complaints were unsubstantiated.