NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — Mike Curato’s Flamer made headlines last week after Oklahoma’s secretary of public education deemed it “inappropriate,” asking all schools to remove it from their shelves.
This request began after a July 26 social media post claimed that two “lewd graphic novels” were potentially available in Tulsa public schools, one of them being “Flamer.”
“This is inappropriate and sexually explicit material. This is pornography that does not belong in any public school library,” Joy Hofmeister, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement. press July 27. “We have contacted Tulsa Public Schools and are asking that the books be removed immediately.”
Hofmeister’s request ripples through public schools across the state.
“Flamer” depicts a young boy who transitions from middle school to high school where he finds himself on the path to self-discovery and acceptance.
Throughout the story, the main character talks about his feelings for another boy, Elias.
The way this story is portrayed is one that Oklahoma Secretary of Public Education Ryan Walters calls “inappropriate.”
“The books we are talking about specifically contain graphic depictions of practiced sexual acts that we have found in some schools, such as colleges. You don’t need any type of overtly sexual material in a school with minors,” Walters said.
Walters added that schools “must” remove books from shelves because they don’t need to be made available to children.
“There are all kinds of legal consequences here. Schools must protect the innocence of our children. They need to ensure that academic learning continues, not indoctrination,” Walters said.
Walters said he had received several emails from parents and teachers expressing concern not only about this book, but a wide range of others. “I’m trying to keep pace as best I can to make sure our schools protect our young people and the innocence of Oklahomans’ youngest,” he said.
Dozens of books were sent to Walters, he said. He said his main goal was to see if any of these books had academic merit. Otherwise, they are wiped from public school shelves.
Chelsey Kraft, a communications specialist in Normandy public schools, told KFOR that if a student or guardian is concerned about a specific title or resource, they should contact the school principal about their process for reconsideration.
Chelsey added that if there is a problem with a reading in class, an alternate assignment can be requested and will be provided.
News 4 contacted Governor Kevin Stitt’s office and received a statement via his publicist, Kate Vesper, saying, “Oklahoma parents shouldn’t have to send their young child to school worrying. if there is pornographic material available in their public school library. Governor Stitt supports Secretary Walters’ efforts to expose and hold accountable every school that stores these sexually explicit books.
“Parents, contact your superintendent, contact your school board members. School boards need to be vigilant about this,” Walters added. “Our school boards must get involved. Parents, keep speaking up. Parents can feel free to email me, contact me.
Freedom Oklahoma provided KFOR with the following statement:
We know how important it is for all students to see themselves represented in the books available in our libraries. It is an essential part of what makes libraries integral parts of our schools and wider communities. Banning books that affirm queer students at a time when it is more urgent than ever for 2SLGBTQ+ children to be able to imagine a future for themselves is not only a dangerous act of censorship, it is an act of violence against our most vulnerable young people. Allowing cut-and-paste efforts by national groups trying to censor representation with pound-by-book attacks is just as dangerous as outright content bans. Gays and gay students exist regardless of the books available in school libraries. Our ability to survive into adulthood, our safety in and beyond Oklahoma, demands representation in school libraries and beyond.
Nicole McAfee, Executive Director
News 4 contacted Hofmeister for further comment, but did not receive a response.
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