‘Pornography in Texas schools’: Gov. Abbott calls for removal of library books

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott is calling for a removal of “clearly pornographic” and “extremely inappropriate” books he says parents are alarmed their children have seen.

In a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards, Abbott explains that “rightfully angry parents” should be able to shield their children from public schools that “provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.”

“It should be monitored more for sure,” said Candice Farr an East Texas resident and mother of a sixth grader. “It kind of makes me want to start checking now, and it’d be nice, you know if we were alerted about what our kids are checking out maybe.”

Abbott didn’t elaborate on instances where this happened or which books/content are in question, however. Instead, he calls on districts to determine the extent to which such materials may exist and “remove them.”

In his letter, Abbott writes:

“You have an obligation to Texas parents and students to ensure that no child in Texas is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content while inside a Texas public school.”

Gov. Greg Abbott

Additionally, Abbott says schools should have increased transparency regarding in-class materials and materials available in school libraries. He also calls for increased reporting on incoming materials as they happen, or “vetting.”

“My son, him being in sixth grade, he’s just starting to kind of, you know learn and hear people talk about those things. We’re still you know kind of sheltering him from that until I’m ready to discuss,” said Farr.

A Texas House committee recently began an investigation into school districts and whether they carry certain titles, Houston Chronicle reports. Books containing sexual discussion or imagery, LGBTQ identities, and race are among the most questioned titles.

Committee chairperson U.S. Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, is among the inquiry’s driving forces. Chron reports the congressman requested districts to inventory which of their books “contain material that might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The list contains over 800 titles.

Some of the books included on the committee’s list include Pulitzer-prize winning book, “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by acclaimed Black author and anti-racist activist Ibram X. Kendi; several titles by best-selling LGBTQ young adult fiction author Adam Silvera; titles discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, and famed novel “The Cider House Rules,” by John Irving.

KETK reached out to the Texas Association of School Boards, and they shared the following statement:

“We have received Governor Abbott’s letter regarding parent concerns about books and other content reportedly found in some Texas public school libraries. We are confused, though, as to why this letter was sent to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), which has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books.

The role of a school board primarily includes establishing a strategic plan for the district, adopting policies in public meetings, approving the district’s budget, and selecting and evaluating a superintendent

In most school districts, the review and selection of individual library materials traditionally has been an administrative responsibility managed by professional district staff.

Of course, school board trustees care deeply about parent concerns and community input. That’s why local school boards have policies and processes in place for parents to express their concerns about any matter affecting their local school community — including the challenge of library materials.”

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