The Houston Chronicle first reported that the North East Independent School District (NEISD) has pulled 414 titles from library shelves in order to cull obscene content. The district chose the books based on a list distributed by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), who recently launched an inquiry into public school library collections.
A district spokeswoman told The Texan that the removal is a temporary part of a review process that began before Krause’s inquiry.
“These books are being reviewed, not removed. More than 100 have already undergone the review process and have been deemed age appropriate. We anticipate the majority of the others will as well,” spokeswoman Andrea Chancellor said.
“Once it was determined that NEISD had many of the books on the Krause list, we have an obligation to ensure that these books are age-appropriate and do not contain obscene or vulgar text.”
“In the past, we have relied on book publishers to let us know whether they are age-appropriate. Based on some of the books we have read, that has not been accurate in all cases. Some students who misunderstood what we were doing have voiced their opinions on social media. We have contacted some of them to let them know that we are not removing books based solely on the topics or the characters and that we are only reviewing the books to make sure they are age-appropriate for our students at each school and do not contain obscene or vulgar text or images,” Chancellor confirmed.
Students launched an online petition to stop the review process, claiming it amounts to prejudice against racial minorities and gay youth.
“These books serve an important place in our community, as they not only provide important educational resources on Black history, they also provide a safe haven for young LGBTQ students who take comfort in this representation. Many black and LGBTQ students in NEISD are appalled and hurt by NEISD’s decision to comply with Matt Krause and suppress our harmless resources and stories,” the petition statement reads.
“We are asking for NEISD to take action against the suppression of our resources, and we are asking students to help us in advocating against this Krause list.”
Chancellor added that the district is developing a way for parents to see their children’s library checkouts online.
Acting as head of the General Investigating Committee of the Texas House, Krause asked Texas public schools to report the number and cost of certain books he deems to be racially charged or sexually explicit. Though Krause borrows language from a new state law meant to curb critical race theory in Texas public education, that law — which was repealed and replaced with a nearly identical cleanup bill that took effect on December 2 — does not regulate libraries.
Not long after Krause launched his inquiry, Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the State Board of Education (SBOE), and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to work on creating a process to vet obscene content from Texas libraries and classrooms. The heads of the TEA and SBOE agreed to initiate Abbott’s request.
Chancellor said that books may be removed for “vulgar text or images.”
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