AUSTIN, TX – Governor Greg Abbott asks the Texas Education Agency to investigate school books containing “pornographic” stories.
Abbott announced on November 10 that he had sent a letter to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath directing the agency to investigate “any criminal activity in public schools involving the availability of pornographic material that serves no purpose. educative”.
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Abbott said he is asking the agency to refer any case of pornography provided to minors under the age of 18 for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that no Texas child is exposed to pornography or obscene material in a Texas public school, and your investigation will help accomplish that mission,” said the governor.
This letter comes after the governor TEA directed, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Texas State Board of Education to immediately develop statewide standards to ensure that no child is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content at a Texas public school earlier this month.
The push to ban certain books from Texas schools comes after many parents in north and central Texas complained to school districts earlier this year about some of the young adult books that dealt with sexuality, in particular POC and LGBTQIA + stories.
The book “Out of Darkness”, written by Ashley Hope PÃ©rez, tells a love story between an African American boy and a Mexican American girl in the context of a horrific 1937 explosion in East Texas.
“I don’t want my kids to learn anal sex in college! I’ve never had anal sex! I don’t want to have anal sex!” Kara Bell, a local mom and former candidate for the Lake Travis ISD school board, said. “I don’t want my kids to have anal sex! I want you to start focusing on education, not public health!”
In October, Republican State Congressman Matt Krause launched a survey of school districts in Texas on the type of books they own, particularly if they relate to race or sexuality or “put them on.” uncomfortable pupils â.
Krause’s letter provides a 16 page list about 850 book titles and ask districts if they have these books, how many copies they have and how much money they spent on the books.
Its list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners, drawn from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron and “Between the world and me”by Ta-Nehisi Coates to Book Club Favorites of Last Year:”Hood Feminism: Notes From Women A Movement Has Forgotten“by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson’s”Caste: the origins of our discontent. “
But race isn’t the only thing on the Fort Worth lawmaker’s list. Other books listed that Krause wants school districts to report on relate to teenage pregnancy, abortion, and homosexuality, including “LGBT Families“by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee,”The letter Q: the notes of homosexual writers to their younger ones“edited by Sarah Moon, and Michael J. Basso’s”The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents. “
The pressure to ban certain books in schools has led many, including the authors of the books in question, to believe that the Conservatives are pushing to silence authors and characters who are women, LGBTQIA + people or people of color.
Authors Whose Books Have Been Retired from Leander ISD book club program Last November, in a letter in April, the district asked the district to reconsider putting its books back on the shelves.
RELATED: Authors at Leander ISD: Bringing Our Books Back to the Agenda
The 20 authors, illustrators and contributors to the deleted books include Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Colleen AF Venable, author of “Kiss Number 8”; Derf Backderf, author of “My Friend Dahmer”; Amy Reed, author of “The Nowhere Girls”; and Miles Hyman, author and illustrator of “Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation”.
The the authors said the inclusion of these books in the curriculum is “both morally necessary and pedagogically beneficial”.
âWe are writing to you not only as concerned citizens, but as creators of some of the very books that have been the subject of this challenge,â the letter said. “We urge you to revoke the current bans and suspensions and to defend the right to read books that reflect a diverse set of perspectives and stories.”
Governor Abbott previously requested The Texas School Boards Association to “Protect Children from Pornography and Other Inappropriate Content,” but the association has abdicated its responsibility to resolve the issue.
A spokesperson for TASB said NPR via email that the group was “confused” as to why it had been the recipient, given that it “has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set standards for teaching materials, including library books â.
Texas school libraries are governed by their independent districts as well as by standards established and approved by the state, as Abbott noted in the letter. While textbooks are reviewed and adopted by the state board of education, library books are reviewed at the district level.