Superintendent Hofmeister, Secretary Walters and others respond to post about LGBTQ graphic novels

TULSA, Okla. — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters responded after a twitter post went viral.

The post from “Libs of TikTok” was made on July 26 and showed pages from two graphic novels ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘Flamer’, claiming the books were available at Tulsa Public Schools (TPS). The post also claimed the books “contained sexually explicit and pornographic content.”

Secretary Walters took to Twitter one day later, tweeting that Libs of TikTok had just uncovered the books. He went on to tweet, “This is disgusting. It must end! No more indoctrination of our kids!”

Hours later, at 5:56 p.m. Superintendent Hofmeister released a statement about the situation, with a corrected statement being released at 7:08 p.m.. The corrected statement reads:

This is inappropriate, sexually explicit material. It’s pornography that does not belong in any public school library.

We’ve reached out to Tulsa Public Schools and are calling for the books to be removed immediately.

All school districts should review and evaluate what will be available in their libraries for the coming school year and remove any inappropriate materials.

Parents have the right to review what books are available in their children’s schools, and to direct what their children have access to, so they can have confidence their children are in a safe learning environment.

Walters took to Twitter again, at 6:12 p.m., claiming in a video that Facebook had censored him after he posted the images on Facebook.

And 6:23 p.m, he tweeted that Hofmeister had been silent on the situation:

Pornography in the classrooms is never acceptable. Hofmeister has been silent on transparency, silent on having standards on critical race, silent on having pornography in the classrooms…right up until the light is shone on the dark secrets that she promotes. 1/2

She’s wrong for Oklahoma and her leadership on education has failed our state. #woketulsapublicschools 2/2

At 6:35 p.m., Libs of TikTok shared Walter’s video and tweeted:

Facebook removed Oklahoma Secretary of Education’s post about these books. It’s too graphic for Facebook but it’s allowed in schools for your kids to access.

At 8:02 p.m., Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat released this statement:

What has been discovered in the Tulsa Public Schools library is appalling and nothing short of deplorable. It is indefensible to have children exposed to images and material that is the definition of pornography. It makes no difference whether it’s same sex, opposing sex or anything in between, children should never be able to view these images in a public school sanctioned library book. It doesn’t matter who authorized these books to be admitted in the library- I am calling on the Tulsa public school superintendent Deborah Gist to do the right thing by taking action by removing these books immediately.

Dr. Jerry Griffin, Board Member - District 6 for Tulsa Public Schools released this statement at 8:04 p.m.:

I don’t care if there are one million or ten million books in our libraries. A book-by-book inspection must take place before any school opens. No student should be exposed to such filth. The inspection should be monitored by a parent/student committee.

It wasn’t that long ago that purveyors of such trash would be serving time in Big Mac.

A search for the books on the TPS library catalog showed that the books are available to check out.

An overview of ‘Gender Queer’, found on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles reads:

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

An overview of ‘Flamer’, found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble reads:

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.