Banned books or banned progression?

Channing Hill, Howler Copy Editor

All across America, people and organizations are coordinating efforts to ban books in many public schools and libraries. However, teachers, librarians and other educational staff in Edmond, Oklahoma aren’t completely on board with the book-banning movement. 

Senate Bill 397 was recently passed by the Oklahoma senate in March of 2023. The bill requires both school libraries and public libraries to regulate access to certain books based on age and maturity, specifically regulating those that mention controversial gender and sex ideas. 

“No print or nonprint material or media in a school district library, charter school library, or public library shall include content that the average person eighteen (18) or older applying contemporary community standards would find has a predominant tendency to appeal to prurient interest in sex,” SB 397 states. 

Nevertheless, some teachers and government officials disagree. 

According to Oklahoma News 4, Sen. Roger Thompson called the newly-passed bill “an overreach of state government” and said these decisions should be left to the school boards and parents.

Valerie Roberson, a teacher at Edmond Santa Fe High School, says that restricting books makes it difficult for teachers in classrooms.

“Making curriculum decisions in this political climate is needlessly difficult,” Roberson said. “Constantly worrying that your class will be targeted for ‘inappropriate’ materials is an added stress that teachers should not have.”

Additionally, student Ava Howell, a junior at Santa Fe, thinks that restricting books will hinder students’ ability to learn and adapt to the real world. 

“I think that banning books in schools really harms student learning in the long run because a lot of these books address real-world problems,” Howell said. “It’s just wrong to restrict something that will hurt a kid’s ability to learn.”

As the book-banning movement continues to spread, even to places like Edmond, Oklahoma, educational staff and students alike are hesitant to support the push to restrict access to certain books and are calling on legislators to vote against the bill. 

If the House were to pass the bill and be signed into law by the Governor, it would be put into effect for all Oklahoma public schools on July 1, 2023, and for all public libraries on July 1, 2024.

“Who decides what is graphic?” Roberson said. “Who decides what is violent? Shakespeare regularly features teenage sex and violence-should it be banned?”