April 4, 2023 – Burt Mummolo, KTUL Staff
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — The Oklahoma State Capitol was abuzz after lawmakers received an email from State Superintendent Ryan Walters that began, “There is a request that we share the pornographic material with you as there is ongoing denial of the existence of these items in our schools.”
“You know it’s not every day that I accept porn on my email when it comes through,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle.
“And the email said, ‘Well you want to know about pornography in the libraries, here,'” said Rep. John Waldron.
“I closed it as soon as I saw what it was,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano.
“This is definitely something that children should not be being exposed to,” said Sen. Nathan Dahm.
The images are from graphic novels similar to what Owasso parent Tim Reiland raised red flags about last fall.
“I lobbied my board and the superintendents to try and remove the pornography,” he said.
In his case, his daughter made him aware of graphic novel with graphic content that administrators vanquished.
“The assistant superintendent did remove the book and they reviewed all the graphic novels,” he said.
But when Reiland tried to change school policy to make sure things like that didn’t get on the shelves in the first place…
“What I received in response was, ‘Well we talked to the lawyer, and it’s not illegal,’ so they weren’t going to do anything about it,” he said.
Reiland dug in his heels, and after a lengthy battle, eventually got the policy changed.
“They cannot bring in graphic novels that have graphic sexual imagery inside of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, back at the Capitol…
“The man has demonstrated that he’s unfit for this office and he should step down,” said Rep. Waldron.
Sec. Walter’s email was met with mixed reactions, with some none too pleased to get it.
“If it’s pornography, he’s the one who’s spreading it and it’s his obsession with these fringe issues,” said Rep. Waldron.
While others thought it clearly made a point.
“Without that email, you can say the word pornography and it means a number of different things to a number of different people, but with that email, there is no doubt what he’s talking about,” said Rep. McDugle.
Monday, Sec. Walters issued a press release saying that the materials sent out correspond with an updated administrative rule passed by the State Board of Education that prohibits pornographic material and sexualized content in school libraries.
“…my office and the parents of Oklahoma have put the far left on notice,” said Walters.
But Tuesday, there was a press release from the Attorney General’s Office stating that “Oklahoma law does not give the State Board of Education the ability to make administrative rules without proper direction from the state Legislature…”
All of this means the issue is far from settled and the controversy continues.
“He lacks the temperament or fitness for the job and he should resign,” said Rep. Waldron.
“I’m glad to hear that we have Sec. Walters being proactive in this to try to get these out of our school systems,” said Senator Dahm.
“Ryan, keep fighting the good fight with the pornographic stuff,” said Reiland.