Utah school district reverses decision on Bible, returns it to library shelves

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DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (KTVX) – A northern Utah school district has reversed its earlier committee-based decision that removed the Bible from elementary and junior high school but kept it in high school libraries.

This comes after a months-long debate in the Davis School District on whether the book was appropriate for all school-age children or only high school students.

In December, the Davis School District received a request from an unknown person asking for the book to be reviewed amid a statewide law passed in 2022 that allowed residents to challenge the books found in school libraries. 

“Utah Parents United left off one of the most sex-ridden books around: The Bible,” the challenge said, referring to one of the primary groups involved in curriculum battles. “You’ll no doubt find that the Bible .. has no serious values for minors because it’s pornographic by our new definition … If the books that have been banned so far are any indication for way lesser offenses, this should be a slam dunk.”

A review committee – comprised mostly of parents, in line with Utah law – was assembled using a lottery selection process. After reviewing the Bible, the committee determined it was not age appropriate for junior high or elementary school libraries.

Within days of the announcement, the district received and began processing appeals to the committee’s decision.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Davis School Board said an appeal committee has determined the “Bible has significant, serious value for minors which outweighs the violent or vulgar content it contains.”

The school board has voted unanimously to put the Bible back in all schools.

The committee’s reversal is the latest development in the debate over a Utah law allowing parents to challenge “sensitive materials” available to children in public schools. Parents’ rights activists successfully lobbied for the legislation in 2022 amid a broader national wave of scrutiny facing the materials accessible in schools and libraries — particularly about race, gender and sexuality.

To date, the district has conducted reviews for 60 books. Of those, 37 were removed from all libraries due to bright line rule violations, 14 books were restricted at some school levels due to age appropriateness, and 9 were retained at all levels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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