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Texas Lawmaker Pursues Banning 850 Books From Schools Over Fears That They Might Cause ‘Student Discomfort’

The state of Texas is continuing its descent away from democracy and equality for its citizens. First came its horrifying rollback of women’s rights with its recent abortion ban. Then came its recent attack on trans students’ ability to participate in sports. Now, Texas lawmakers are at it again, this time attempting to censor 850 books that lawmakers say could cause “discomfort” for students reading them. 

Corky Siemaszko of NBC News reported that “a Texas Republican lawmaker has drawn up a list of 850 books on subjects ranging from racism to sexuality that could ‘make students feel discomfort,’ and is demanding that school districts across the state report whether any are in their classrooms or libraries.”

According to Siemaszko, “State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, also wants to know how many copies of each book the districts have and how much money they spent on them, according to the letter he sent Monday [Oct. 25] to Lily Laux, deputy commissioner of school programs at the Texas Education Agency, and several school district superintendents.”

As the chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, Krause is also directing all school districts within the state to identify any other books that could cause students “guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex, or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Krause has given the schools a Nov. 12 deadline to comply with the order, telling them, “your prompt attention to this request is appreciated.”

The Texas Tribune obtained a copy of the letter, which contained an expansive list of both well-known and somewhat obscure books typically found in schools, including William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, John Irving’s The Cider House Rules, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and even a graphic-novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

The list of books that could potentially get banned in Texas state schools also includes works by Black writers (Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall, and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson) as well as LGBTQ-inclusive titles ranging from LGBT Families by Leanne K. Curry-McGhee to Michael J. Basso’s The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents.

Although Krause has yet to explain why he is seeking the list of books from each school, many pundits suspect it is another step in the state’s efforts to ban critical race theory and everything potentially connected to the subject from school campuses.

Siemaszko said that NBC News reached out to the lawmaker to ask more about what he intended — or if he had read any of the books included within his list — but has yet to receive a response from his office or spokespeople.

In a statement, Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said Krause’s behavior “smacks of a witch hunt.”

“Rep. Krause’s letter demanding that school superintendents provide him with lists of books dealing with certain subjects on their school bookshelves is disturbing and political overreach into the classroom,” Molina said. “What will Rep. Krause propose next? Burning books he and a handful of parents find objectionable?”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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