Political battleground emerges in Texas schools over books on racism and sexual orientation

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Governor Greg Abbott’s letter this week alerting to school library content is not the first and likely won’t be the last.

Experts say increased scrutiny of what is taught in schools became a political tool in the last election and will be in the future.

The governor’s letter comes weeks after Texas Rep. Matt Krause (R – Fort Worth), who chairs the House General Inquiry Committee, sent state and local school officials a list over 800 pounds wanting to know if they had them. Many of these books have been written by women, people of color, and LGBTQ writers covering topics such as race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

In the letter to the Texas Association of School Boards, Abbott cautioned against examples of pornographic images in public school libraries.

The governor wrote: “You have an obligation to parents and students in Texas to ensure that no child in Texas is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content while on location. interior of a Texas public school. “

(Photo by John Moore / Getty Images)

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The letter provided no example, but his office did report one.

Keller ISD recently withdrew the book “Gender Queer: a Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, pending investigation. The book is an author’s personal story on gender identity and sexuality.

Keller ISD said it removed the one high school copy “after the district was informed that the book contained what could be considered graphic images, out of caution.”

The governor’s office gave no further examples and did not respond to a request for an interview.

State Senator Royce West (D – Dallas) sent the governor a letter on Tuesday requesting a list of books of concern and the reasoning behind the concern.

“It’s the best thing to do. This way, you won’t have a deterrent effect not only on teachers, but also, frankly, on parents and students,” West said. “Don’t make a generalized statement. Give us details on why you oppose the books. “

Jonathan Friedman is part of PEN America, an organization that fights for free speech around the world.

“What we are seeing right now is some sort of widespread effort to remove from schools and school libraries, in particular, issues of race, racism, gender, sex and sexual assault in some. case, ”he said. “We want to make sure that parents have a say in these processes, but we also want to make sure that we respect the expertise and experience of professional educators. They taught, in most cases, several generations of students.

Regardless of where people stand on the discussion, it’s clear this is becoming a top political priority, especially for Republicans as we approach the 2022 midterm.

“We saw it right in the race for governor in Virginia. Republican Glenn Youngkin won yesterday that education issues and in particular issues of parental autonomy in education have had a great deal of interest and have won a lot of votes for Republicans, ”said Matthew Wilson, SMU police. science teacher. “And so they would be stupid to let it go, and I don’t think they will.”

Wilson says Republicans could use it as a strategy to win back voters in the suburbs they have lost in recent years.

The Texas Association of School Boards responded to Governor Abbott’s letter, saying it was confused because it had no regulatory authority over the schools.


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