TULSA, Okla. — Two books that were in some Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) libraries are now gone following claims they’re inappropriate for students.
A post online showed pages from two graphic novels, “Gender Queer” and “Flamer,” claiming the books were in some TPS high school libraries. Secretary of Education Ryan Walters quickly shared the post (warning: online post contains graphic images).
“It is disgusting. It is unbelievable that they are allowing this type of inappropriate sexual material in their library,” said Walters on social media. He then said Facebook censored him after he shared the images. “It’s a sad day when woke Facebook has higher standards than Dr. Gist,” said Walters.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in a statement, “It’s pornography that does not belong in any public school library.”
TPS Board Member Dr. Jerry Griffin wrote in part, “A book-by-book inspection must take place before any schools open. Students should not be exposed to such filth.”
“It was a bit hurtful because he called us disgusting, called the experience of these books disgusting,” said Jose Vega, the senior program director at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. He said he wishes he had these books in high school, and said he has “full faith in [TPS] that they would do the right thing.”
TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said the situation has been addressed, and the books have ben pulled from TPS library shelves.
“Are they a problem? Yes. The storyline is not the problem, the images are a problem,” said Gist. “When the books were raised to our attention, we pulled them right away.”
Gist said she wishes those speaking up about the books came to her first.
“Anyone of these politicians could have solved this without the drama,” said Gist. “Every single one of these folks who are calling for this, that and the other, they have my cell phone number.”
Gist said the books were likely purchased as part of a package deal with other books. She said there is a process for evaluating a book when a concern is raised, and they are working to understand the selection process used and will change it as needed.
FOX23 also learned Owasso Public Schools (OPS) has the book “Flamer” available to students. OPS Superintendent Dr. Margaret Coates said the pages shared online with inappropriate images are not in that book, but they are taking a closer look.
Bixby Public Schools said they removed the book “Flamer” from their media center. The district said they received it in the spring and it was never checked out.
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