Texas School District Examines Over 400 Books and Removes Them From Library Shelves

LUBBOCK, Texas, Dec. 8 (Reuters) – A school district in San Antonio, Texas, has removed more than 400 books from library shelves, items on a list that a conservative lawmaker says may be inappropriate for children .

The Northeast Independent School District said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that it was reviewing 414 books and most would likely be put back on library shelves soon, after an age adequacy review. .

The reports of the review came as free speech advocates worried about an increase in calls to ban books.

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The district said the review came in response to concerns from parents and a request from State Representative Matt Krause that all school districts in Texas identify if their libraries contain any of the nearly 850 books they have. it’s listed as potentially inappropriate. Most books deal with gender, sexual orientation, or race.

“For us, it’s not about politics or censorship, but rather about making sure parents choose what is right for their minor children,” said Aubrey Chancellor, communications director for the North East Independent School District.

She said the district is adding electronic tools that will allow parents to see which library books their children are accessing, and that some books may require parental permission for students to view.

Free speech advocates like Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom, are concerned.

Caldwell-Stone said the effort to ban certain books from school libraries has been around for a long time, but she has never seen so many people make the effort at the same time.

She said conservative groups are posting lists of books they want to ban on social media. Parents from different parts of the country then file a complaint with school officials, prompting exams.

“They target books that have given voice to traditionally marginalized people in our society and, apparently, encourage censorship of those books by school boards and libraries,” Caldwell-Stone said.

PEN America, which seeks to protect free speech, said Texas is at the epicenter of what it called a national political push by Republican lawmakers to demonize books on race, gender and gender identity.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott in November called on state education regulatory agencies to investigate what he called pornographic books in school libraries.

In October, the Krause State Representative, as chairman of the House Committee on General Investigations, informed the Texas Education Agency that his committee was beginning an investigation.

Jonathan Friedman, director of free speech and education at PEN America, said the Texas efforts are deeply troubling and part of what he called an unprecedented trend that has touched several states.

Friedman said he sees a wave of school districts giving in to demands to restrict access to books.

“The trend is very clear. This is a huge effort to catch any kind of book that deals with racism, sex and gender, no matter how those books deal with the topics,” Friedman said.

Krause’s office and the Texas Education Agency did not respond to requests for comment.

(This story has been scanned to include a hyphen in Caldwell-Stone’s name in grafs 7, 8 and 10.)

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Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Donna Bryson and Richard Pullin

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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