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Oklahoma Schools Are Fighting Back Against Porn-Obsessed Superintendent

Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Ryan Walters has already made headlines for sending context-free porn to his fellow lawmakers. He’s now accusing one of the school districts under his jurisdiction of supporting the exposure of children to what he describes as “pornography” in schools. What horrendous, degenerate, pornographic display of hedonism is Walters’ administration accusing teachers of hiding in libraries? Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and Jeannette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle. 

Yesterday, Edmond Public Schools petitioned the state Supreme Court to rule on a threat from the Oklahoma Department of Education, headed by Walters, to remove the two books — or face consequences. The dispute between Walters and the school district is just the latest in a long list of culture war battles staked out by the “anti-woke,” porn-obsessed superintendent.

Last month, the school district received a letter from the State Board of Education ordering them to remove the two books — the titles of which were identified by KOCO5 News — from its high school library shelves. The letter threatened to downgrade the district and school’s accreditation if they did not comply. In a letter to parents, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Angela Grunewald said that on Tuesday the district “Board of Education voted unanimously to file a petition asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to determine if rules adopted and enforced by the State Board of Education, State Department of Education, and State Superintendent Ryan Walters are valid under Oklahoma law.”

We “firmly believe in local control for School Boards in Oklahoma and standing up for the laws passed by the State Legislature that guarantee that control,” Grunewald added. “Simply put, we contend that this is a case of overreach where the State Department of Education has wrongly removed our locally elected School Board from making decisions regarding education and materials inside of our district.”

In a video statement explaining the letter, Grunewald said school administrators could not simply “go in and just remove these books from the library,” as the district could run afoul of federal law and district policies governing the removal of materials. The other option would be to refuse to remove the books, but risk retaliation from the Department of Education — something she very much wished to avoid. “We decided to go to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, based on legal counsel, and ask them to make a ruling and to make a decision on what we needed to do.”

“We do not have pornography in our libraries,” Grunewald said. “If you hear that, it is not true.”

Walters has been the primary figure pushing claims that the Edmond school district is “leading the charge to put pornography back in schools.” Both The Kite Runner and The Glass Castle deal with themes of sexual assault and trauma, but in no way glorify, endorse, or present the material in a pornographic manner. Despite this, Walters accused Edmond’s administration of creating “a legacy that’s more in line with Hugh Hefner, and pushing pornography, rather than being focused on academic excellence.”

Walters conveniently omitted direct references to the two titles in his video addressing Edmond School’s petition — because the two highly regarded novels are clearly not considered pornographic by the general public.

Walters has made a name for himself as a culture war-focused school administrator weaponizing right-wing cultural grievances to reshape the state’s education system. Last year, Walters announced that the state had authorized a partnership with the conservative media company PragerU — without subjecting the materials to a state curriculum review. In August, he drew a firestorm of criticism after promoting a video posted by right-wing social media account Libs of TikTok targeting a Tulsa-area elementary school librarian. In the days after the post went viral, a slew of Tulsa-area schools received bomb threats.

Last month, Walters tapped Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik to serve on the state’s Department of Education Library Media Advisory Committee. The appointment drew widespread backlash, as Raichik has no background in education and has been repeatedly accused of fomenting hate and harassment against teachers, doctors, hospitals, and other individuals who support the rights of the LGBTQ community and the need for comprehensive education on issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

The anti-LGBTQ inclusion policies supported by Walters administration have also drawn widespread scrutiny following the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old non-binary Oklahoma student who died the day after a fight in a school restroom. Benedict’s family told The Independent that they had been subjected to bullying over their gender identity. While the death remains under investigation, the LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma described Benedict’s death as “a possible hate-motivated attack.”

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