The district issued a press release on Thursday with statements from Granbury High School librarian Tammy Burns and principal Jeremy Ross, announcing the removal of five books by young adult author Abbi Glines for “explicitness.”
“Upon purchasing the Abbi Glines books, the entire series falls under the Young Adult (YA) category (i.e. high school age appropriate). We purchased this on the good faith that this was, indeed, true as it was indicated,” Burns stated, elaborating that she only learned of the books’ content as recently as January 25.
“I do want to let it be known I was planning on weeding these books this year based on the lack of checkouts in recent years, missing books within the series, and some falling under the weeding guidelines (i.e. dingy, torn pages, lack of circulation, etc.). I want it to be known that it has never been, nor never will be, my intention to put material in our library’s collection that could cause harm to our student population in any way.”
The statement does not specify which exact titles will be removed. It ends by stating the district’s commitment to keeping a “socially and culturally” diverse selection of books in the libraries.
According to the release, the district began the review process after outgoing state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) asked for an accounting of books deemed sexually explicit or racially charged in school libraries and Governor Greg Abbott called on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to vet obscene materials from libraries and classrooms.
The GISD school board had already discussed book review and removal at the regular board meeting on Tuesday. Public commenters split over whether the books constituted inappropriate or useful and diverse material for children.
“Many books on the list from Rep. Krause contained helpful information about abortions, sexual health, and human rights,” Granbury High School sophomore Darcy Welch said.
“Removal of these books could lead to miseducation of teens.”
Other parents, warier of the books, called for the chance to review them publicly.
“I think that we should have the opportunity to review these books and see what they are, because we are the ones that have gone before and made the nation what it is,” community member Jenny Thomas said.
“We need to know and be aware that, yes, everybody does have a voice. Me included. I’m not dead yet. I want my kids and grandkids to know the values that I have and why they worked, because they have.”
Superintendent Jeremy Glenn stood by the review and removal.
“As far as the concerns about removing books, let’s not misrepresent things. We’re not taking Shakespeare or Hemingway off the shelves, and we’re not going and grabbing every socially, culturally, or religiously diverse book and pulling them. That’s absurd, and the people saying that are gaslighters, and it’s designed to incite division,” Glenn said.
“Abbott said that students should not have access to vulgar or pornographic materials in schools, and our district totally agrees with that. Those are exactly the type of books we removed. The books I removed were vulgar. The writing was sexually explicit and, in my opinion, pornographic… Tonight I’m gonna go home, and I’m gonna get a great night’s sleep. Because unlike you, I’ve actually read what’s in those books, and I’m proud that they’ve been removed from our shelves.”
"Unlike you, I've actually read what's in those books, and I'm proud that they've been removed from our shelves." pic.twitter.com/LZ2fANVLNM
— Isaiah Mitchell (@IsaiahMitch_tx) January 28, 2022
Acting as head of the General Investigating Committee of the Texas House, Krause asked the TEA for a full report of the cost and number of specific books in public school libraries around the state in October. Some school districts, such as Granbury, have complied, and others have not. Krause’s inquiry focused on books he alleged were sexually graphic or racially charged and was limited to books in school libraries.
In November, Abbott asked the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), a private group of public school trustees across Texas, to voluntarily take action to vet pornography from school libraries. After TASB declined, Abbott then asked three government bodies to act: the State Board of Education, the democratically elected group in charge of the state curriculum, as well as the TEA and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), both state agencies.
Unlike Krause’s inquiry, Abbott’s request included classroom materials as well as library collections and was limited to books deemed sexually obscene.
The TEA manages the public school system while the TSLAC manages public school library standards, among other duties.
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