Two graphic novels believed to be on the shelves of Tulsa school libraries were the subject of a series of tweets on Wednesday from Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters accusing the district of “liberal indoctrination” .
Walters tweeted screenshots – taken from curator social media account”TikTok Libs– from a search on Follett Destiny – a library resource manager – from Memorial High School’s library catalog for “Gender Queer” and “Flamer” books. The screenshot shows that “Gender Queer” n was not available at Memorial, but would have been available at Nathan Hale High School and Booker T. Washington High School; search results for “Flamer” show “1 of 1 available”.
In his tweet, which also included photos from the graphic novels, Walters said, “This is disgusting. It must end! No more indoctrination of our children!
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The Tulsa World searched the Follett Destiny Discover website and found no books listed as available at Booker T. Washington or Memorial high schools. However, “Gender Queer” was available at Nathan Hale High School.
Several hours after his initial post, Walters posted a video to Twitter accusing Tulsa Public Schools and Superintendent Deborah Gist of having a ‘woke’ and ‘left-wing’ curriculum and said he posted the photos of the novels. on Facebook only to have them deleted.
“It’s truly a sad day when awake Facebook has higher standards than Deborah Gist in Tulsa Public Schools,” Walters said. “It’s unbelievable that they allow this kind of inappropriate sexual material in their library. I’m not going to put up with it.
“We have inappropriate sexual material targeting children in Tulsa Public Schools, and this liberal indoctrination must stop.”
Following Walters’ tweets, Tulsa Public Schools released a statement indicating that the school system has nearly a million books on its library shelves that are purchased based on decisions “using national journals as well as suggestions from teachers and students.
The statement says the district has a process for reviewing books when concerns are raised, which includes a committee made up of students, parents, teachers and librarians who review the book.
“At this time, we are focused on opening schools during a time of teacher shortage crisis never seen before in Oklahoma,” the statement said. “It is deeply disappointing that Governor Stitt and Ryan Walters continue to dig into every opportunity they can find to attack Tulsa Public Schools rather than solving the crisis right in front of us.
“Our superintendent’s response to all of this is: knock it down. We need to focus on serving the children of Tulsa.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister released a statement calling on TPS to remove the books, calling them “inappropriate” and “pornography that does not belong in any public school library.”
His office said he had contacted TPS and was asking that the books be removed “immediately”.
“Parents have the right to check what books are available in their children’s schools and direct what their children have access to, so they can trust that their children are in a safe learning environment,” says Hofmeister’s statement.
“Gender Queer,” a graphic novel memoir about non-binary author Maia Kobabe’s journey through the LGBTQ+ community, has been called the “Most Difficult Graphic Novel of 2021” by the American Library Association.
A School Library Journal editorial review states that “Flamer” is appropriate for grades 8 and up and describes it as “the story of a teenager who must decide whether he will force himself to fit into the mold of what he thinks a ‘normal’ boy is, or if he can afford to live life on his own terms.
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