Gov. Greg Abbott calls on state agencies to develop standards to block “overtly sexual” books in schools
AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) – Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday called on state education officials to develop statewide standards preventing “pornography” and “other obscene content in public schools from Texas, ”citing two memoirs on LGBTQ characters that include graphic images and gender descriptions.
Abbott’s directive to the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the State Board of Education comes days after the governor asked another entity – the Texas Association of School Boards – to determine in which Measure “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state and remove it if found. Corn the association told Abbott he had no regulatory power over school districts and suggested that the governor direct his investigation to the TEA or the SBOE.
Political back-and-forth following Keller ISD’s removal of a book – “Gender Queer: a Memoir” by Maia Kobabe – from one of its high school libraries after some parents expressed concerns about the images graphics of books. Kobabe’s graphic novel chronicles the author’s own journey with gender identity. At one point, it includes illustrations of oral sex and other sexual content, as well as discussions of pronouns, acceptance, and hormone-blocking drugs.
In his November 8 letter, Abbott referred to this book along with Carmen Maria Machado’s “In the Dream House”, which the governor said “describes overtly sexual and pornographic acts.” This book, along with several others, the governor said, was recently taken out of classrooms in the Leander Independent School District. “In the Dream House” is a memoir that examines an abusive relationship between two women.
Abbott told education officials on Monday that the Texas Association of School Boards had “tried to wash their hands of the problem by abdicating all responsibility in the matter.”
“In view of this negligence, the State of Texas is now asking you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do,” Abbott wrote, saying the standards developed by the entities “must provide transparency on the material. taught in class and available in school libraries.
The issue of inappropriate content in public schools has also recently come to the attention of State Representative Matt Krause, a Republican from Fort Worth, who has launched a survey in some school districts into the types of books students can access. . Krause, a member of the diehard conservative group of the Texas House Freedom Caucus who is also running for state attorney general, included in his investigation a list of around 850 books that included novels on racism and sexuality and asked districts to identify which of these books were available on school campuses.
The lawmaker, who asked districts if they had these books and how much money had been spent on them, declined to provide details beyond that, saying he did not want to “jeopardize” an investigation. current or potential as chairman of the House General Inquiry Committee. .
Meanwhile, another Texas House Republican, State Representative Jeff Cason of Bedford, called on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to launch a statewide investigation into Kobabe’s novel. and others with similar content. The attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
The drama unfolded against the backdrop of the legislature passing two laws earlier this year restricting the way teachers can talk about race-related topics in school.
GOP lawmakers have argued for legislation to reject what they describe as “critical race theory,” an academic discipline that argues that racism is ingrained in legal systems and not confined to individuals. It is taught at the university level, although it has become a common phrase used by some Republicans to include anything race-related taught or discussed in public high schools.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texatribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, non-partisan media organization that educates – and engages with – Texans about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.