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Bill to ban “pornographic and indecent” books in Utah public schools temporarily stalls

Feb 28, 2022, 4:21 PM | Updated: 5:29 pm
Men talk outside of the House chamber after the morning session of the Utah Legislature at the Capi...
Men talk outside of the House chamber after the morning session of the Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill from Utah Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, to ban “pornographic and indecent” books in Utah’s public schools passed out of committee Monday, but it was simply circled in the House. 

H.B. 374, Sensitive Materials in Schools, would have given schools the power to remove books deemed “pornographic or indecent” without having to go through the normal review process. It’s already illegal to have these kinds of materials on school grounds.

A proponent of the circled bill, Nicole Mason was at the hearing to support the bill.

“Our children are right now given unrestricted access to pornographic material in school libraries,” said Mason, a member of Utah Parents United. “We have gone through the local process. We understand local control. We have used this process to try to get these materials out of the libraries. It is impossible for me to try to get this out.”

Of concern to another parent at the hearing is the memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue” — a book of personal essays by LGBTQ-plus activist George M. Johnson

Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden, said he favored the bill because it would help guide school districts. 

“This is a delicate area for us to try to tread in as a state — I think because we do value and base our education system on this theory of local control. It appears that our local districts don’t have adequate direction and information by which to handle these decisions,” he said.

However, Waldrip said that lawmakers would have to assure that H.B. 374 isn’t used to silence minority voices.

Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray,  isn’t ready to support the bill because of that.

“Nobody wants porn in our schools,” Kwan said. “I have to speak out for the minority communities who are worried that our stories are going to be ignored — that our stories are going to be targeted.”

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Bill to ban “pornographic and indecent” books in Utah public schools temporarily stalls