Volusia County Schools Retains Bible Despite Challenge to Remove the Holy Book

The Bible can remain in Florida's Volusia County Schools. (Midjourney)

A recent challenge to the presence of the Bible in Florida’s Volusia County Schools has ended with the book remaining within district buildings, reports The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Christina Quinn, a Daytona Beach local and Central Floridians for Social Equality president, initiated the challenge. While Quinn opposes book banning, she believes that if certain books with specific content are banned, then the Bible should also be removed.

The Florida Department of Education reports that during the 2022-23 school year, 89 books were challenged within Volusia County Schools. Two titles were removed: “Flamer,” by Mike Curato, and “Relish: My Life in the Kitchen,” by Lucy Knisley.

Quinn stated, “If we’re going to have some kind of protocol for books that are banned, then we have to make sure that the same rules apply across the board, including the Bible.”

However, Desirée Rybinski, Volusia’s instructional materials coordinator, clarified that the Bible would remain in the district, citing Florida Statute 1003.45. This legislation permits students to study the Bible and other religious texts in Florida’s K-12 public schools. The statute also mandates a moment of silence at the start of each school day.

Under Quinn’s leadership, Central Floridians for Social Equality works to advocate for marginalized communities’ equality.

In her press release, Quinn complained about unfairness in book removal criteria. She argued that if a book is removed due to sexual content, especially those highlighting marginalized narratives, the Bible should also be considered for similar reasons.

Presently, the Bible is available in 15 of Volusia’s educational institutions, ranging from elementary to high schools. Additionally, the Florida Department of Education’s B.E.S.T. Standards for English Language Arts lists certain sections of the Bible for specific grade levels.

Quinn’s challenge pinpointed several Bible passages she deemed sexually explicit, suggesting they contravene Florida Statute 1006.28 2.b, which defines and regulates explicit content in educational materials.

Reacting to the district’s decision, Quinn expressed her dissatisfaction, labeling it as “hypocritical.” She contended that the decision showcases a double standard when it comes to the portrayal of marginalized communities.

Interestingly, while book bans were not slated for discussion at the recent Volusia County Schools board meeting on September 26, many attendees raised the issue during public comments. During this session, board member Jessie Thompson remarked on Bible readings, suggesting that interpreting the Bible as sexually arousing could be misinterpreted.

Thompson stated, “If you are being aroused sexually by the Bible then you might be doing it wrong.”

Thompson received an email from Citizens for Truth and Justice in Education co-founders Sheila Zinkerman and Laurel Robinson in a separate development. Along with another organization, Free To Be Florida, they urged Thompson to remove her personal Bible from the Volusia board room to “respect religious freedom for all.”

However, Thompson said, “I stand by my faith, my Bible, and my religious freedom granted to me by God. Therefore, I will not be removing my Bible.”


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