Bigger Problems Than Books? Texas parents divided on what lawmakers should focus on
AUSTIN (Nexstar) – This week Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas Education Agency, the State Board of Education, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to set statewide standards for books found in our public school libraries.
Governor Abbott said it was an effort to prevent the presence of “pornographic and obscene content” in public school libraries. He cites three recent examples from Texas schools, including a book found in a Keller ISD library.
“At first I was just disappointed and disgusted. And then I got angry, ”said Kathy May. She has two children who attend Timber Creek High School in Keller ISD and said she first heard about the “Gender Queer” book in this library via text message.
“She was like, “Oh my God, there’s literal porn at Keller’s” and I was like, ‘What?’ And she sent me the pictures were like, ‘Oh, my God, there is,’May explained.
“Gender Queer” is an autobiographical cartoon from the author’s teenage life, featuring several pages of sexually explicit content.
” It’s not good. I don’t want my child to see this, ”she said.
But other parents don’t share the same level of concern.
Shane Hardin, who has two daughters at Keller ISD, said he believed the book was being used as a political ploy, especially since the school had already taken it down.
“When you look at it for the first time, it’s shocking. But you also have to recognize the context, ”Hardin said. “The book’s controversy is a thinly veiled attempt to bully LGBTQ children.”
He also pointed out that some of State Representative Matt Krause’s voters attend Keller ISD schools. Krause is the Republican lawmaker who launched an investigation last month into nearly 850 books in Texas libraries.
Hardin said the state should focus its resources on other issues.
“Our children are late due to the pandemic, and we are concerned about removing books that could be of use to LGBTQ children,” Hardin said.
School districts, as well as state agencies, are already working hard to compensate for the COVID learning slide.
“We only have a bandwidth limit, don’t we. And I think everyone’s bandwidth is pretty limited, ”Central Texas teacher Meghan Dougherty said Tuesday. “Why would issues with reading books be such a predominant conversation when there are so many other challenges facing our students in our schools right now? “
But May said the state needs to address the issue immediately and work to enforce it in every district as well.
“You can’t defend porn from children. If we don’t fight this now, it’s going to become a place we don’t want to go. Like we have to be able to close the door at some point, ”May said.
So far, Keller ISD has not commented on how the book was selected or when. In a statement, the district said it is currently under investigation.
“We are aware that we have been mentioned and, as always, we will follow any new direction provided by TEA. Regarding the referenced book, once the District was informed that the book contained what could be considered graphic images, out of caution the book was withdrawn pending an investigation into how the book was selected. and made available to a student at one of the district libraries, ”the school district said.
The TEA has yet to provide details or a timeline on when these statewide standards will be set. The agency said it took the governor’s directive seriously.
“As stated, we will work closely with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the State Board of Education to develop statewide standards to prevent the presence of pornography and other obscene content in our public schools, including school libraries. We appreciate the governor’s leadership on this, ”Commissioner Mike Morath said on Monday.