In a growing fashion, public school educators are being ousted for using controversial material in the classroom, such as contentious books, and LGBTQ-promoting materials. Many parents want schools to focus on the ABCs and 123s, and leave social matters for home and family topics. Because of this, many education leaders are pushing back against liberal initiatives aimed at schools, such as is the case in Oklahoma, where Education Secretary Ryan Walters has vowed to target and fight against teachers found to be imposing ‘sick materials’ on students.
Speaking directly with Fox News, The Sooner State’s Department of Education secretary discussed his staunch disapproval of the rate at which teachers in his state, and all across the nation, have been found to be pushing ideologies onto students, rather than focusing on core academic subject matters. Because of the growing concern, Walters also touted a potential plan the state is looking into that could possibly revoke teachers’ accreditation if they are found to be using what he dubbed ‘sick material’ in the classroom. In defining what he constitutes as inappropriate, he pointed to sexual books that have been ridiculed for being on school library shelves.
Calling what some teachers have been pushing for more LGBTQ+ inclusivity as “woke ideology”, Ryan Walters asserted that the purpose and focus for educators should be on subjects like math, science, and reading, not on inclusivity, activism, and social justice. He pointed out that Oklahoma has already banned critical race theory from school classrooms and discussions, and now fears that the state has to target new laws pushing back on explicit sexual material, resonating with other recent state laws like in Florida, where the Don’t Say Gay bill was passed to limit sexual topics in school.
Turning to reading materials, Ryan Walters focused on controversial, sexually explicit books that are found in schools across the state. In Tulsa Public Schools, children are able to read contentious books like Gender Queer and Flamer. The first novel discusses masturbation, sex acts, and even has imagery within that depicts young students engaging in oral sex. The latter is a graphic novel with similar sexually charged topics.
After the major city school district was exposed for having these explicit books available for children to view and read, the books were immediately removed from libraries as the district will now open an investigation and decide whether or not they should be permanently restricted. This situation is not an isolated one, as schools across the United States are facing large amounts of challenges with books found in school libraries. It’s a tough situation for school officials to tackle because while some parents and educators like Ryan Walters feel this ‘sick material’ has no place on school campuses, other families seek this type of literacy out.
Families, students, and policymakers are town on how schools should be run. Many don’t approve of sexual, LGBTQ+, or anti-racist materials being available within the classroom. But at the same time, others wish to see more of it. As conservative figures like Ryan Walters continue to change the course of education, opposers push back just the same.