A wave of book censorship is plaguing public schools across the nation. Many of the titles targeted deal with LGBTQ issues, but others focus on topics that make the far right, especially Christian Nationalists, uncomfortable.
Parents and activists are fighting back in many communities, and it looks like they might be getting some help from the U.S. Department of Education.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Granbury, Texas, Independent School District, where officials have reportedly ordered the removal of all LGBTQ-themed books from school libraries.
LGBTQ-Themed Books Pulled In Texas
The Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union reported last year that Superintendent Jeremy Glenn said during a closed-door meeting that staff would be “pulling out … the transgender, LGBTQ, and the sex – sexuality – in books.” At least 130 books were yanked from the library shelves. The Texas Tribune and ProPublica found that three-quarters of the targeted titles dealt with LGBTQ issues.
“The book removals and also the comments create this pervasively hostile environment,” Chloe Kempf, an ACLU attorney, told The Washington Post. “Both send a message to the entire community that LGBTQ identities are inherently obscene, worthy of stigmatization – and the book removals uniquely deprive LGBTQ students of the opportunity to read books that reflect their own experiences.”
The district’s move was clearly mean-spirited and short-sighted – but it is illegal? Maybe. The Texas ACLU argues that removing the books violates a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools. As The Post reported, the Biden administration, which is breaking new ground by green-lighting the investigation in Granbury, has interpreted the law to include discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Book Censorship: A Nationwide Problem
The situation unfolding in Granbury is part of a nationwide push led by Christian Nationalist groups to purge school and public libraries of material that offends their religious sensibilities. They’d like to make their regressive and, frankly, often hateful, beliefs the yardstick for all of our rights – including the right of young people to experience the world as it actually is.
If you’re alarmed by that, you’ll want to keep a close eye on developments in Granbury – as well as what may be unfolding in your local public schools and libraries.