Texas governor denounces ‘pornography’ in school libraries as GOP targets LGBTQ books
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In another vague attack on what schools can and cannot teach in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott wrote a letter to the state’s association of school boards warning of “pornographic or obscene” books in school libraries.
While the letter did not provide any concrete examples of such books, it comes days later Republican State Representative Jeff Carson demanded an investigation into “sexually explicit” books in school libraries that might violate “pornography and decency laws”. Carson explicitly named the book “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, an autobiographical comic by a non-binary author.
Last week the book was removed from a school library in the Keller School District, Texas.
In a editorial, Kobabe wrote of several districts across the country that suppressed or challenged the book. The author condemned the label “pornography” as a “common accusation against working on queer sexuality themes,” adding that “removing or restricting queer books from libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth “.
A spokesperson for the Texas Association of School Boards told HuffPost that the group received the governor’s letter but was “confused” as to why, since the group “has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not not set standards for teaching materials, including library books.
Local school districts govern the books available in their school libraries, as stated in the governor’s own letter. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, another Republican state representative in Texas, Rep. Matt Krause, launched a vague investigation into hundreds of books in Texas school libraries. Krause’s letter, which was reportedly sent to an official at the Texas Education Agency and several school districts, listed over 800 books and asked how many schools were on campus, how much schools had spent on them, and more.
The books listed were mainly by LGBTQ women, people of color and writers, reported the Dallas Morning News. The list of books included on racism like Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste”; on queer gender, like “Beyond the binary genre” by Alok Vaid-Menon; and queer relationships, like “In the dream house” by Carmen Maria Machado.
Krause refused to tell the Texas Tribune and other media on the specific purpose of the investigation.
Texas State Teachers Association called Krause’s investigation a “witch hunt.”
Abbott signed a new texan law in June, largely seeking to prevent teachers from talking about white supremacy, racism and privilege in classrooms.
Like the governor’s letter on “pornography” in school libraries, the new law is vague, leaving teachers in Texas to whom HuffPost spoke unsure of what they can and cannot teach.
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