Ryan Walters

Ryan Walters, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of education, speaks during a news conference Dec. 17, 2020, at the state Capitol.

Oklahoma’s NAACP has criticized state education secretary Ryan Walters for calling on the state Board of Education to revoke a Norman Public Schools teacher’s license.

Former Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier garnered statewide and national attention after she placed butcher paper with the words “Books the state doesn’t want you to read” over a classroom shelf and gave students a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned project.

Boismier quit her job Aug. 24 after the school district met with her over a complaint from a parent alleging she “made derogatory and divisive remarks toward state legislators and used her classroom to make a political display expressing her own opinions,” according to a Tuesday statement from Superintendent Nick Migliorino.

Boismier has argued the classroom is an inherently political space, and said she can’t fully teach Black and LGBTQ literature without invoking discomfort.

A week after Boismier quit, Walters alleged in a letter to the state Board of Education that she tried to introduce a liberal political agenda in the classroom, and that she provided students access to pornographic material. He referenced the book “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel exploring concepts of gender and sexuality.

“When liberal activists posing as teachers actively violate state law, then they will lose their license. It’s common sense,” Walters said in a statement to The Transcript on Thursday afternoon.

In its statement, the Oklahoma State Conference NAACP argues Walters “is seeking to decrease the number of certified teachers at the expense of students.”

“The Oklahoma State Conference NAACP wholeheartedly rejects the idea that an educator providing Oklahoma students access to educational material is working on a ‘liberal political agenda,’” the NAACP statement said. “Inflammatory and accusatory language of this nature cannot be tolerated from an elected official tasked with representing all Oklahomans, including our students.”

After leaving her job, Boismier spoke openly against Oklahoma House Bill 1775, which prohibits teaching anything that intends to make a student uncomfortable on the basis of race or sex.

But whether Boismier has violated that or any law is unclear.

State Rep. Kevin West, a Republican and the bill’s leading author, and 12 other members of the Legislature on Sept. 9 called on the state Department of Education and the state school board to investigate whether she violated HB 1775.

“We are not calling for the revocation of Summer Boismier’s teaching certificate, merely an investigation by the state Board of Education,” West said in a written statement Thursday.

State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, said Boismier should be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law” for distributing obscene material to minors. He also referenced “Gender Queer” in his statement.

An obscenity lawsuit involving “Gender Queer” in Virginia was thrown out in August.

HB 1775 is often associated with banning critical race theory, the academic concept that teaches that overarching systems perpetuate and contribute to racism in the United States.

The NAACP statement argues critical race theory “recognizes that laws, policies and institutions can uphold and reproduce racial inequalities, which has historically had the real-world effect of oppressing African Americans and other people of color.”

In his statement, West noted HB 1775 prohibits schools from teaching that one race is superior to another, or that people in the present are responsible for things that happened in the past.

“We will not teach kids they’re racist because of the color of their skin,” Walters said Thursday.

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