88th LegislatureStatewide NewsTexas Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Prohibit ‘Sexually Explicit Material’ from Public School Libraries

Patterson's READER Act seeks to hold book vendors accountable for sexually explicit content and stop the selling of related material to schools.
January 27, 2023
State Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) has filed new legislation to prohibit sexually explicit books from public school libraries, create requirements and restrictions on book vendors who might be selling sexually explicit content to public school libraries, and provide legal protection for schools and staff.

After filing House Bill (HB) 1655, titled the READER Act, Patterson issued a press release stating, “After 14 months of fighting sexually explicit materials in public schools, I have filed HB1655, aka The READER Act.”

The READER Act stands for “Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources.”

“The sexualization of our children must stop,” said Patterson in his statement. “No legislator in the country will work harder than I will to ensure our kids are protected from radical sexualization, whether that be through social media, in the classroom, or in the school library. This session, book vendors selling explicit content to Texas school children will be held accountable.”

The bill, if enacted, will give an exact definition of “sexually explicit material” and have the Texas State Library and Archives Commission consult with the State Board of Education to adopt voluntary standards.

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“The standards if adopted would include a prohibition on the possession, acquisition, and purchasing of books rated sexually explicit material; and permits the exclusion from school libraries of material that are pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable,” reads the text of the bill.

HB 1655 would also place requirements on school districts or open-enrollment charter schools to not allow students to access any “sexually relevant materials” at a school library without first getting written consent from the parent or guardian.

Additional details address the issue of book vendors and the type of content they will be able to sell to public schools.  

A school book vendor would be required to issue a rating on sexually relevant and explicit material before selling the book to a school district.

Book vendors would also have to develop a list of each book that contains sexually explicit material sold to schools and submit it to the state by September 1, 2023.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will have the ability to review books that are not rated by a school book vendor and determine if they should be rated as sexually explicit material.

School districts and charter schools will also be required at the end of each year to submit to the TEA a report listing each book rated as sexually relevant material in their school catalog. The agency will then post the report online.

Protections are put into the bill that do not hold school districts or open-enrollment charters liable for claims or damages that would result from a book vendor’s violation of these standards and ratings.

This follows Patterson’s introduction of HB 1155 “relating to parental rights in public education and prohibiting instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity for certain public school students.”

Patterson said of the bills, “My HB 1655 – aka The READER Act – and my HB 1155 are the most aggressive attempts to remove sexual indoctrination in the country.”

Update: A portion of the bill has been added to this article.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that students could access explicit materials in school libraries with parental consent. We regret the error.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.