Friday, July 29, 2022

State Rep. Conley comments on obscene materials in school libraries

Conley Comments on Obscene Materials in School Libraries

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, this week called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister to follow through on the announcement of pornography in Tulsa Public Schools.

"It's not enough to acknowledge the existence of this inappropriate material in the district and call for its removal, follow-through in all Oklahoma schools will be essential for this to be resolved," Conley said. "I want to reiterate that materials such as these are not just in Tulsa Public Schools but in other school libraries throughout the state as well."

In a social media post directed to the superintendent, Conley said most parents don't offer obscene movies to be watched in their homes or take youth to movies that are not developmentally appropriate.

"Why is the reading material most of these movies are made from in some of our school libraries?" Conley asked in the post. "Why are we allowing material actually worse than most movies to remain available to our students?"

Conley continued by asking if the superintendent is aware that being sexually abused and even exposed to sexual content can lead people, in adulthood, to be sexual abusers.

"Did you know the numbers of peer on peer sexual assaults are rising and getting even more prevalent than adult on child abuse? What are we going to do about this?"

Conley, a former teacher and school administrator, said in her post that the current state superintendent has not done anything about this nor has the Oklahoma State School Board Association or local school boards that have been approached by concerned parents.

Conley linked her post to a Fox News story that reports 181 K-12 educators in the U.S. have been charged with child sex crimes in 2022. She also referenced an article titled "Acknowledgement of the Problem is the First Step Towards its Solution."

After Conley's post, Hofmeister announced in a press release that because of a social media post that revealed the presence of two obscene graphic novels potentially available in Tulsa Public Schools that she was calling for their immediate removal. She stated in her release that the material in the novels was inappropriate and sexually explicit and that pornography does not belong in any public school library.

Conley said she was glad her tactic worked to get the superintendent's and the public's attention, but the material has been known about for some time. She wishes it had been removed when first discovered, better yet never made available to students in the first place.

Last session, Conley introduced legislation that would have updated the definition of obscene material to include harmful to minors and to widen the scope to include any representation or form of media. House Bill 4013 did not advance. She also introduced House Bill 4012, which would have codified the requirement that school boards approve a written policy establishing the criteria to be used in the evaluation and selection of materials for their school libraries and media programs. House Bill 4014 would have ensured parents or legal guardians have the right to view their child's library records. Neither bill advanced.

Conley said she plans to reintroduce the legislation to provide guidelines for schools so the state and the federal laws on obscene materials will be followed in Oklahoma school libraries.

Sherrie Conley serves District 20 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes parts of Cleveland, Garvin, McClain and Pottawatomie counties.


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