The Natrona County School District No. 1’s high schools have 11 books on their library opt-in lists, meaning students cannot access those books without parental permission.
The opt-in policy is a new system for Casper’s public schools. The district adopted its opt-in policy July 1.
But it was a long time in the making, with district book challenges spanning multiple recent school years.
Controversial books “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves” and “Gender Queer” both made it onto the opt-in list after making headlines last year amid a challenge for their sexual content.
The Natrona County School Board, which has since seen some turnover, voted to keep the books in at least one of the district’s high schools.
Parents still had the ability to opt their children out of permission to check out certain books.
What Is ‘Sexually Explicit?’
But last November, the board also updated its controversial materials policy with a comprehensive definition of “sexually explicit materials.” This tightened up the library book selection criteria, which say the district will prefer content without sexually explicit images over content with them.
“School librarians reviewed library books beginning in November 2022 to ensure they met the (policy) definition updates,” Tanya Southerland, district spokeswoman, told Cowboy State Daily in a Friday email.
“Any library books that met the definitions of sexually explicit content … were moved to the Opt-In only category,” she said.
The policy definition characterizes sexually explicit images as, “Any picture, photograph, drawings, motion picture films, digital image, or similar visual representation depicting the human sexual acts of masturbation, intercourse, or direct physical stimulation of the genitals.”
District staffers will not be acquiring library books with sexually explicit images going forward, Southerland wrote, quoting from a new policy.
The district’s reconsideration committee also may consider books for the opt-in list that don’t contain sexually explicit images as defined by the policy, says the opt-in rule.
The 11 books in the district’s high schools that have made it onto the opt-in list are:
“Blankets” by Craig Thompson
“Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe
“Juliet Takes a Breath,” by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote
“Last Man: The Royal Cup,” by Balak, Michael Saniaville, et al
“MangaMan” by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran
“Sing No Evil” by JP Ahonen and KP Alare
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the Univers #5” by Scott O’Malley and Bryan Lee O’Malley
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault
“The Water Dragon’s Bride Volume 8” by Rei Toma
“Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a Resource for the Transgender Community” by Laura Erickson-Schroth
“Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.