Story at a glance
- An Oklahoma English teacher resigned from her post Wednesday as the result of a state law banning critical race theory.
- The teacher, Summer Boismier, was told along with other instructors in Norman Public Schools to cover books that were deemed inappropriate under the state law.
- In response, Boismier covered the books and labeled them with a QR code that would connect students to the Brooklyn Public Library’s “Books Unbanned” program.
An Oklahoma teacher said she was forced to resign over a state law banning books.
At the beginning of the school year, Summer Boismier, 34, was an English teacher at Norman High School located just south of Oklahoma City.
Boismier told CNN that before the start of the school year, English teachers in the Norman Public Schools district were instructed to review books in the classroom libraries to check which titles might “elicit challenges” to a state law banning the instruction of critical race theory.
Teachers were told to box up books or turn them around so that the spines faced the inside of classroom bookshelves, and away from student’s eyes, or to cover them up, Boismier told the outlet.
Boismier decided to cover the books with butcher paper, labeling them as “Books the State Doesn’t Want You to Read” and placing a QR code on the covers that would connect students to the Brooklyn Public Library.
Underneath the QR code she wrote, “Definitely don’t scan this!”
Once there, students could sign up for a library card and take advantage of the library’s “Books Unbanned” program.
Earlier this year, the Brooklyn Public Library announced that it would offer digital library cards to students between the ages of 13 and 21 across the country in response to the over 700 pieces of legislation introduced or passed banning or censoring classroom materials.
A concerned parent reached out to the school district about Boismier and a “potential issue regarding Oklahoma HB 1775,” Norman Public Schools spokesperson Wes Moody said in an email to Changing America.
Moody added that the concern centered on Boismier’s decision to use the class time and the classroom to make personal and political statements.
“Like many educators, the teacher has concerns regarding censorship and book removal by the Oklahoma state legislature. However, as educators it is our goal to teach students to think critically, not to tell them what to think,” said Moody in the statement.
Boismier told CNN that school district officials said the label and QR code made the books seem forbidden and that they didn’t want students to be encouraged to do anything illegal.
The English teacher added that she was put on administrative leave and during a Tuesday meeting she was scolded by administrators for making a political statement during class time.
Moody denied that Boismier was at any point suspended or put on administrative leave.
Boismier told CNN she was told to return to the classroom on Wednesday but instead she resigned, the outlet reported.
Boismier hasn’t responded to questions from Changing America.
Since 2021, dozens of states have introduced or passed legislation controlling the instruction of critical race theory, or the idea that the country’s social institutions like the education system, criminal justice system, health care system and housing market are “laced with racism” and have rules, laws or regulations that have racism embedded in them, according to the Brookings Institute.
But Oklahoma’s law is particularly harsh. Under the legislation, teachers who are caught instructing critical race theory could lose their license.
“Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship and for the principles of intellectual freedom—the right of every individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. Limiting access or providing one-sided information is a threat to democracy itself and we cannot sit idly by while books rejected by a few are removed from library shelves for all,” a library spokesperson said in a statement.
“We invite young people ages 13 to 21, from every state in the nation, to apply for a digital library available through our Books Unbanned program at http://bklynlibrary.org/books-unbanned.”