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The Frontier: Oklahoma Attorney General Drops Textbook Obscenity Investigation | News

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced Thursday that he is ending an investigation into whether dozens of books on school library shelves violate the state’s obscenity law.

The border reported for the first time that O’Connor’s office had opened an investigation to find out if 51 books in Oklahoma school libraries, including classics like Of mice and Men, Brave New World, and I know why the caged bird sings, ran against the state obscenity law after complaints from parents and other groups about the books.

The inquiry came amid a new conservative push to remove some books from school libraries in Oklahoma and across the country, as well as several invoices in the Legislative Assembly this session dealing with school libraries.

O’Connor said in a statement Thursday that his office would no longer be investigating the matter. He also mentioned a bill from the Oklahoma legislature to expand the definition of “obscene material” to include books, magazines, articles and other written materials.

“I have received complaints from several parents about books in public school libraries that parents find obscene. I will always listen to complaints from Oklahomans. I recommended that they present their objections to the school boards. I also recommended that they discuss with the legislature how Oklahoma law defines ‘obscenity’,” O’Connor said in the statement. “Our office is not investigating this matter at this time. I understand that there is a bill that was introduced during this new session to respond to the concerns of these parents.

At a meeting late last week of the group Reclaiming Oklahoma Parent Empowerment, Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, said she helped bring O’Connor’s attention to the books and that he had told her that the State Obscenity Act had never before been used to challenge written documents.

Conley introduced House Bill 4013 to expand the definition of obscene material, as well as House Bill 4012, which would set up district-level standards commissions to review whether school materials are obscene. The bill would also implement a movie-style grading system for books and allow local council decisions on materials to be appealed to the State Board of Education.

House Bill 4013 passed the House Judiciary Committee last week by an 8-1 vote and now awaits a vote on the House floor. An amended version of the bill includes a provision prohibiting “obscene material harmful to minors”, including written material, which “appeals primarily to the lewd, shameful or morbid interest of minors”, “is manifestly offensive to standards in adult education. community as to what is suitable for material for minors” and “is completely without social importance for minors”.

House Bill 4012 has yet to be heard by the House Common Education Committee.

O’Connor said that at this time, parents concerned about the school library and teaching materials should contact their respective school boards.

“I respect the role and responsibility of parents in the education and social development of their children and urge school boards to investigate complaints from these parents and work with them regarding the materials available in libraries. schools,” O’Connor said. .

Many of the books on the list under review by O’Connor’s office are on the American Library Association’s Most Disputed Books list. Although parent complaints about the books came from across the state, Conley said she sent many titles to O’Connor’s office from a list Reclaiming Oklahoma Parent Empowerment gave her.

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