When I first heard about SB1142 (also known as “The Book Ban Bill”) I thought to myself ‘Surely this is a joke, right? RIGHT?!’
No. It’s not a joke.
To give you a brief overview…
If a parent opposes any book at a public school library, that book must be removed from the shelves within 30 days or the teacher / librarian will be terminated and cannot hold a job at any public school for 2 years.
Who wrote SB1142?
Brought by Senator Rob Standridge (R), this bill was written under the guise of “protecting our children from inappropriate content.” However, this bill is most certainly NOT about protecting children, rather it is meant to prohibit access to any reading material (educational or otherwise) that talks about gender & race equality, gender identity, sexual orientation, transgender, comprehensive sex education, educational books on puberty, etc. The verbiage is so vague and broad that almost any book could fall under the umbrella of what a parent might consider “sexual in nature.”
The thing is, public school library books already have to go through a vetting process before they are allowed on the shelves.
Why is this bill dangerous?
It is critical to the well-being of our youth to have access to a variety of literature and educational material, including sex education. It is even more critical for our LGBTQ+ youth to have access to material that is inclusive of non-binary characters. Suicide rates of LGBTQ+ youth are 1.5-3 times higher than non-LGBTQ+ youth, partly because they are under-represented, and they often don’t have family support. Public school libraries may be thier one and only access to resources that they need to help them navigate their identity.
“Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24, and LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.4 This does not mean, however, that LGBT identity itself is the cause of these challenges. Rather, these higher rates may be due to bias, discrimination, family rejection, and other stressors associated with how they are treated because of their sexual identity or gender identity/expression.”Youth.gov – Behavioral Health
Banning these types of books is unacceptable.
While many people believe that outrageous bills like this won’t get signed into law, I can assure you that crazier things have happened, especially in Oklahoma (like when they made a law that prohibits the banning the of use of plastic sacks at grocery stores. Yes, you read that correctly. They banned Oklahoma from banning the use of plastic sacks, a HUGE contributor to pollution.)
What’s the process of getting a bill passed into law?
Bills like this get submitted all the time. Half the time they don’t even make it to the Committee floor for discussion & vote. But who has control over whether or not a bill gets presented to the Committee? The person with this authority is the Senate Education Committee Chairperson; in this case, Sen. Adam Pugh.
Senator Pugh has the power to kill SB1142 before it’s even heard by the Education Committee. But if he chooses to allow it to be heard (due to lack of public opposition, for instance) then you know the saying… “Things in motion gain momentum.”
Once the bill is brought to the Senate Education Committee, it gets discussed and revised and voted on by the Committee members. If it passes, it’ll go to the House of Representatives Education Committee for another round of discussion, revision, and voting. And if it passes AGAIN, it lands on the desk of the Governor where it’s either signed into law, or vetoed.
What’s the likelihood of SB1142 actually passing?
If it weren’t for the simple fact that Oklahoma’s overwhelming voter majority is extremely conservative, I might not be as concerned about a bill like this passing a Committee vote. But extreme conservative ideals have shown us over and over again that they are willing to put our children’s education at risk to assert their dominance.
Where do we draw the line?
How can I help?
Last week my daughter and I met with Representative Jose Cruz in his office at The State Capitol to discuss SB1142. His advice to me was simple: CALL, EMAIL, or best yet MEET WITH SENATOR PUGH IN PERSON to let him know that you DO NOT support banning books from public school libraries. With the February 7th legislature session start date quickly approaching, I urge everyone reading this to take action sooner than later. Encourage Senator Pugh to kill this bill before it’s even presented to the Senate Education Committee.
But please don’t stop there… if you’re going to send 1 email you might as well email all of the members of the Senate Education Committee. Or better yet, pop by their offices after you meet with Sen. Pugh at the Capitol and have a quick (socially distant) face-to-face chat about why you think this bill is dangerous for Oklahomans.
Let them know that you DO NOT support SB1142, and you will NOT stand for a book ban in our state. Future generations of Oklahoma students are depending on us to protect their access to education.
OK Senate Education Committee Members
Sen. Adam Pugh, Education Committee Chair
Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, Education Committee Vice Chair
Jo Anna Dossett
R-District 42 (Oklahoma County)
Blake Cowboy Stephens
There’s an APP for that!
Download the Oklahoma’s Legislative Guide APP for iPhone & Android to stay up-to-date on where certain bills are at in the process.