5 books parents in Texas want to ban from school libraries

When you are looking for a book, a library is the place to turn to because all books can live freely within their walls. But recently, public and school libraries across the United States have come under attack for collecting books critical of race, sexuality, and other issues in contemporary American politics. States like Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming have joined Texas in these efforts, creating a unprecedented number of book ban requests in 20 years.

Parents in Texas have called for the removal of these books, including some in the Katy Independent School District. They removed books they deemed “offensive” without any official criticism. A law was signed last year by Gov. Greg Abbott that bars K-12 teachers in public schools from discussing current issues of race, society, and American law. The Critical Race Theory Bill joins other regressive policy decisions such as the state abortion ban and HB 25a bill that targets transgender youth.

State Representative Jared Patterson and 26 other Republican members of the Texas House sent a letter to every public school principal in Texas “asking them to pledge not to knowingly associate, purchase, or associate with vendors who have supplied child pornography to public schools”, and used the graphic novel by Maia Kobabe Gender Queer: A Memoir for example. To make matters worse, says rep Matt Krause sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency asking to see school library budgets and whether they house any of the 850 pounds listed on a 16-page spreadsheet.

Books on the list include coming-of-age stories featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, which have been deemed sexually explicit and pornographic by parents and Republican politicians. In defense of this material, National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to Patterson calling his attempt to censor books to intimidate and deceive all school districts in Texas.

“Rep. Patterson and his co-signers are failing to protect students from obscene and explicit content. They are censoring books and depriving students of a comprehensive education that is essential to preserving a healthy democracy,” the statement read.

Book advocates across the country continue to fight censorship using petitions, protests, and direct pressure on school board members.

Curious about other headlines that rocked Lone Star’s political table? Here are five books that are considered banned or have been unofficially removed from Texas school districts.

lawn boy
By Jonathan Evison
The story follows 10-year-old protagonist Mike, who has a sexual experience during a youth group meeting with another 10-year-old boy. Ashamed of the incident into early adulthood, Mike finally takes ownership of the experience and revisits it through a sometimes uncomfortable, yet humorous lens, as he journeys toward self-actualization.

Reason cited: “blasphemy, pornography, gambling, homosexuality”

Gender Queer: A Memoir
By Maia Kobabe
Perhaps the most contested book in the United States, this graphic novel describes Kobabe’s personal journey with gender identity and sexual orientation. This book is an “intensely cathartic autobiography” that traces their journey from the confusion of teenage crushes to the difficulties of dating, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and coping with the trauma of pap smears.

Reason cited: “obscene and pornographic images”

out of darkness
By Ashley Hope Perez
Set in the 1930s, this novel tells a love story between two teenagers, a Mexican American girl and an African American boy in East Texas.

Reason cited: “explicit sexual content, profanity”

ghost boys
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
ghost boys tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Jerome who is shot dead by a policeman who mistook his toy gun for a real one. As a ghost, Jerome observes the devastation of his family and communities and the wake of a movement against brutal murder and racism.

Reason cited: “propaganda, anti-police”

The hate you give
By Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’ first best-selling novel, The hate you give follows a teenage girl who, after witnessing her black friend killed by the police, grapples with the aftermath of his death. The novel eventually became a movie in 2018 and is a sobering story about racism, police brutality and activism.

Reason cited: “pervasive vulgarity and racially insensitive language”

For more information on how to support your local and school libraries, visit the EveryLibrary website.

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