Texas Challenged Books

In late 2021, Texas gained national attention for efforts at the state and local level to investigate what books were held in libraries' collections. This guide explores the context of what happened, resources on the topic, and how one can participate.

What is Gov. Abbott's Directive?

On November 8, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote a directive to the Texas Education Agency, Texas State Board of Education, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission asking these state agencies to investigate pornography or what would be perceived as pornography held within school libraries across the state. He implored theses agencies to, "to immediately develop statewide standards to prevent the presence of pornography and other obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries."

Abbott, Greg. Letter to Mike H. Morath, Martha Wong, and Kevin Ellis, 8 Nov. 2021. 


What is Rep. Matt Krause's List?

Previous to Governor Abbott's directive, on October 25th, Representative Matt Krause, who chairs the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, sent a list of 850 books to the Texas Education Agency and a letter directing the agency to:

1. Please identify how many copies of each book in the attached Addendum your District possesses and at what campus locations including school library and classroom collections.

2. Please identify the amount of funds spent by your District to acquire the books identified in request No. 1 above.

3. Please identify any other books or content in your District, specifying the campus location and funds spent on acquisition, that address or contain the following topics: human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), sexually explicit images, graphic presentations of sexual behavior that is in violation of the law, or contain material that might make students feel discomfort, 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, Matt. Letter to Lily Laux, 25 Oct. 2021.

How did San Antonio's NEISD React?

In early December 2021, the Northeast Independent pulled over 400 books from its libraries for a review of content. These books were on representative Krause's list. Dr. Sean Maika addressed this review on December 7th stating, "This is about ensuring that the books in our libraries do not contain obscene or vulgar material." Further, he stated, "NEISD will form a book review committee to determine these types of things. In addition, we are adding an electronic tool that parents can access to see which library books are being checked out by their children."  

Maika, S. (2021, Dec. 7). Parent Message: December 7, 2021. Northeast Independent School District.

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