Gov. Spencer Cox said the Utahns should “curb” the idea of banning or removing books from school libraries.
“Any history student knows that the book ban never ends well,” Cox said Thursday during his monthly press conference on PBS Utah. “Now, it’s one more thing to say, ‘This is not age appropriate,’ and it’s another to say, ‘Hey, we’re making your kids read this book,’ is this not ? … But just to have a book available for kids who might see it differently or are interested in it, let’s just be careful.
“I’m not saying every book should be in every classroom,” the governor said. “There are probably books that shouldn’t be in our schools. But let’s think about it. Let’s take a step back, take a deep breath, and make sure we don’t do something we’ll regret.”
Cox was asked about a report of parents in Washington County pushing to ban books from school libraries over concerns about explicit language, race, gender and gender identity.
KSL.com first reported on Wednesday that an email from a parent prompted Canyons School District officials to remove nine different books from the high school libraries at Alta High, Brighton High, Corner Canyon High and Jordan High. The mother said she believed some of the contents of the books “were pornographic material” and described some clips as “extremely graphic and detailed”.
“I think the books should be appropriate for grade levels,” the governor said. “Explicit language, I certainly have some concerns. But we should really curb the idea of getting rid of the pounds.”
Cox said he believes parents should engage with their children and find out what’s going on in their classrooms and what is being taught. He said some of the best conversations he’s ever had with his own children were about controversial topics they discussed together as a family.
“Now teachers shouldn’t be trying to politicize or push their views on kids, but man, I don’t know what happened where… we treat kids like they don’t have brains. We do not give them the opportunity to think, discuss and debate, ”he said.
The governor said his favorite high school classes included homework that required him to research arguments different from his own beliefs.
“I remember we were given the death penalty. And you couldn’t vote for which side you took, you were affected,” he said. “Then we had to argue. They were the best classes – especially when I was assigned a topic I didn’t believe in, when I had to chat on the other side of it.
“It made me a better person. It helped me understand people.”