homepage logo

Davis school officials have pulled 33 books from libraries under new policy

By Tim Vandenack - | Mar 9, 2023

ROBBY LLOYD, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Books are shown at the Weber County Library in North Ogden in 2015.

FARMINGTON — Davis School District has fielded 80 requests for removal of books from school libraries in the system since creation of a new policy governing “sensitive materials” last year.

Of those, 33 books have been removed from school libraries due to the sexual content in their pages after facing a review process. Ten books that faced removal have been retained and five more on top of that will be retained, but only at the high school level. Another 32 books, including the Bible, are still in the review process.

“Any individual with standing can request that a book be reviewed,” including staff, parents and students, said Logan Toone, an assistant superintendent in the district. “Most of our requests have come from parents.”

Davis School District, like many districts across the state, implemented new book policies last year after passage of House Bill 374 during the 2022 legislative session. The measure spells out that “sensitive materials” — pornography and “indecent” sexual content, generally speaking — are prohibited in public schools.

The most recent book action in Davis County came Tuesday, when the Davis school board upheld earlier decisions to remove four books, all because of the sexual content they contain, per H.B. 374.

The four books are “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George Johnson, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab and “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuistion. The board — voting unanimously and without discussion — also upheld an earlier decision to keep “The Clockwork Princess,” by Cassandra Clare.

The committee recommendation to remove “All Boys Aren’t Blue” does not stem from “the racial or transgender topics that the book explores,” reads a note on the book in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting. “The committee recommends removing it because of the sexual content it contains (which violates Utah code).”

Weber and Ogden school officials also implemented new book review policies last year in response to the legislation. “H.B. 374 sets a basic floor that certain indecent and pornographic materials simply do not belong in K-12 schools,” Rep. Ken Ivory, a West Jordan Republican and the bill’s author, said last fall.

Officials in Weber School District, though, have fielded no requests to remove books since adopting the policy update in October, according to Lane Findlay, spokesman for the Weber school system.

“In previous years, we’ve only had a small handful of concerns brought to our attention by parents, and most of those were objections to the Harry Potter series,” Findlay said. “None of those concerns resulted in formal requests being filed or the removal of any books from WSD school libraries.”

A rep from the Ogden School District didn’t immediate respond to a query on Thursday on the status of book removals there.

Per the Davis School District policy, a body called the Sensitive Material Review Committee considers and acts upon book removal requests. That committee’s decision stands unless it is appealed, in which case a Sensitive Material Appeal Committee is called on to take action. The appeal committee makes a recommendation to the Davis school board, which has final say and which acted in its capacity as arbiter of books under the updated policy for the first time last Tuesday.

Decisions to remove books in the Davis School District generally apply to all schools in the system except in cases when books are still allowed at certain grade levels — in high schools, for instance — according to Toone.

That books are being challenged in the Davis School District isn’t a new thing, but the new guidelines skew differently, as Toone describes it. “There was a process and parents utilized it. The legal review criteria prior to H.B. 374 favored retention more than the current legal requirements do,” he said.

A complete list of books removed due to the new Davis School District policy is available online at davis.k12.ut.us/academics/library/library via the “sensitive materials” tab.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)