Over the past year, Patterson has pushed to keep allegedly sexually explicit out of Texas public schools.
The initiative made headlines last fall when Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), head of the Texas House General Investigating Committee, asked the Texas Education Agency to compile a list of “sexually explicit or racially preferential books.”
In his press release, Patterson wrote that he “has met with the superintendents from Prosper, Celina, Little Elm, Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point and Sanger. Thus far, only the Frisco ISD superintendent has refused a meeting on this topic.”
Patterson told The Texan, “[Frisco ISD] has a radical librarian. She allowed the graphic display of two dozen sexually explicit books to be showcased in the main hall of the school.”
“The superintendent supports this. It is obvious. That is why this librarian is still employed. [The superintendent] has never taken this issue seriously,” he continued.
“I have other superintendents in Denton County who are working with me, contacting me frequently with lists of books they are taking off the shelves. The Frisco superintendent has simply offered lip service and long-winded press excerpts that don’t do anything.”
“Frisco has over a million books in their library catalog, one of the largest in the state. So far, they have removed one-fifth of the books that next-door Prosper ISD has removed. Frisco has 12 high schools, Prosper has two.”
In an email to The Texan, a Frisco ISD spokesperson responded to the criticism, writing, “In addition to revising Board policy to explicitly prohibit obscene content and adopting new administrative guidelines to ensure inappropriate material is not purchased in the future, Frisco ISD has committed to reviewing all of our library collections based on standardized criteria such as age-appropriateness of the subject matter, condition and age of materials. Four additional staff members joined the District in July to work with campus librarians to conduct these reviews.”
“Frisco ISD appreciates that Rep. Patterson shared his most recent concerns utilizing our formal book review process as opposed to just sharing them on social media. The District has reached out to his office for additional information, as the submitted forms did not include specific page numbers related to his concerns. If Rep. Patterson is unable to provide specific page numbers, the District will review these books in their entirety as quickly as possible. FISD shares the same goal as Rep. Patterson, which is to ensure that inappropriate material is not accessible to our students.”
Here is the full list of books Patterson challenged:
- “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
- “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison
- “Perfect” by Natasha Friend
- “What We Saw” by Aaron Harzler
- “Burned” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Fallout” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Glass” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Identical” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Impulse” by Ellen Hopkins
- “People Kill People” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Smoke” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Tilt” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Traffick” by Ellen Hopkins
- “Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins
- “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson
- “A Court of Mist & Fury” by Sarah J. Maas
- “Cut Both Ways” by Carrie Mesrobian
- “Asking for It” by Louise O’Neill
- “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez
- “Chicken Girl” by Heather Smith
- “The Exact Opposite of Okay” by Lauren Steven
- “Check Please, #Hockey!” by Ngozi Ukazu
One book by Ellen Hopkins, an author listed 11 times on this list of texts, revolves around a teenage character addicted to crystal meth.
The book is titled “Crank,” slang for methamphetamine.
Many of Hopkins’ books also contain sexual themes. One book, “Tilt,” heavily references teen pregnancy and depicts an improper sexual relationship between a minor and an adult.
A review for one of her novels reads, “[Hopkins] is at her best in this outstanding novel written in gorgeous prose…a sex-filled masterpiece of mystery and romance.”
“Lawn Boy,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian,” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” are listed in the top 10 most challenged books by the American Library Association (ALA), a library and learning advocacy organization.
The ALA opposes banning books, writing on their website, “[The ALA] champions and defends the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read, as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”
“The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society.”
Free expression nonprofit PEN America conducted a study finding that in the last year there were “1,586 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,145 unique book titles.”
Commenting on the results of their study, they wrote, “There are common themes reflecting the recent backlash and ongoing debates surrounding the teaching and discussion of race and racism in American history, LGBTQ+ identities, and sexual education in schools.”
These organizations have linked the recent changes to social studies and history curricula around the country with the effort to remove books from schools as evidence of infringement on student rights.
Responding to this criticism, Patterson told The Texan, “All we are doing is making sure the resources we have available to students are age-appropriate. There are obscene materials that the Supreme Court allows school districts to remove.”
“Educators make decisions every single day regarding what to include in lesson plans. All we are asking is that school districts create better policies to prevent this type of obscene content from getting seen by children.”
Update: A statement from a Frisco ISD spokesperson has been included.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.