Parents, school staff members share concerns over books removed from Oklahoma classrooms

TULSA, Okla. — A national report by the PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans has on its list “banned books” in Oklahoma.

The report specifically mentions Bristow Public Schools and some of the books parents complained about saying those books are now banned. The Superintendent for Bristow said it’s a bogus report, and not true.

For some parents, former librarians, and educators like Tammy McCartney, there’s a lot of reading between the lines as to what’s acceptable in school libraries and what’s not.

“I believe parents should have the choice to let their child read the Twilight series or I recently read the book “Flamer” because I heard that was one of the books that was going to be banned. Not appropriate my kids at this particular point and time, but 100 percent someone needs to read that book,” she said.

In the report, PEN claims several books are banned in Oklahoma, including “The Outsiders,” “Eclipse,” the Twilight series and more. When it comes to the banned book list, Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters said the list is false.

“There’s no banned books in the state of Oklahoma. All our legislation says you cannot indoctrinate our kids by telling they are racist because of the color of their skin or over sexualizing our classroom and put pornography in the classroom,” Walters said.

McCartney said when it comes to filtering books out of schools, like we’ve seen at Tulsa Public Schools with “Flamer” being pulled from shelves, she said it’s an attack on teachers and librarians.

“If it were about the books, we would have a clear process in place we’d have public conversation about it before we ban it. There is already a process,” McCartney said.

She said there’s already a process in place to report certain books deemed inappropriate that’s been around for years. Walters adds to that, parents can go to their school district meetings or contact him. For the gray area when it comes to what can be taught, and which book can be included in the curriculum, Walters said there’s rules in place for that, too.

“With the HB1775, there’s eight different things not to do in schools, and that’s indoctrination,” Walters said. “You can’t tell kids they’re racist because [of] the color of their skin. You can’t tell them to be ashamed of themselves because of the color of their skin.”

Walters is encouraging parents to stay involved in their child’s education.