Public Schools

A Texas pastor is demanding removal of hundreds of titles from school libraries. Some schools are complying.

  Rob Boston

A pastor in Texas is threatening to sue public schools unless they remove hundreds of books from their libraries. This is an extreme demand, and educators should oppose it.

Pastor Luis Cabrera of a group called Latino Faith has been brandishing a list of more than 600 books that he wants to see ejected from Texas schools. It’s unclear where Cabrera got the list – he calls it “generic” – and he’s making claims about the books that seem questionable at best.

According to Cabrera, public school libraries in Texas include “books on bestiality, they have books on same-sex people having sex, they have books on adults having sex with children. What is the business of the education system to push this perversion on my children? How is this educational?”

Pornography in public schools?

Christian Nationalists often claim that public school libraries include pornographic material. It’s inflammatory and designed to get people worked up, and to anyone tempted to believe it, I’d say tell the folks making these claims to put up or shut up: Produce the books that are in a Texas public school library right now that feature bestiality and pedophilia.

What’s really going on here? Most likely, the school libraries contain age-appropriate volumes that contain LGBTQ+ characters or deal with information young people need on topics such as human sexuality. This material offends religious extremists, so they’re demanding its removal.

Unfortunately, a new Texas law gives the censors ammo. The legislation forbids public schools from obtaining material that is “harmful,” “pervasively vulgar” and “educationally unsuitable.” Vague standards like this allow Cabrera and others to terrorize Texas schools.

Challenging censorship in court

Of course, it’s unclear that a law like this would stand up in court. Federal courts have looked with skepticism on censorship laws in other states. But for legal challenges like that to happen, educators must stop caving into censorship demands.

The opposite is happening. Cabrera claims that officials in Harlingen, Brownsville and San Benito schools are already removing books. A spokeswoman in Harlingen insisted that officials are merely reviewing the titles, but Orlando Lopez, president of the school board in San Benito, told that the district “has been working diligently for the past month to remove any inappropriate books.”

Here’s a better idea: Get a little backbone. Otherwise, the school library shelves are going to be a lot emptier – much to the detriment of the young people of Texas.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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