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In this Aug. 11, 2021, file photo Joy Harrison instructs her second graders at Carl B. Munck Elementary School, in Oakland, Calif. Credit: Santiago Mejia / San Francisco Chronicle via AP.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released statewide standards for school districts to prevent the presence of obscene content in Texas public school libraries.

The new guidelines state that parents have an essential role and have the right to guide what the students should read and how the books are selected as well as the right to select alternative reading or instructional material for the students.

School districts are to keep in mind that distributing “inappropriate” or “harmful” material to minors is a crime. These standards are used as a guide for school district officials to tweak current policies or develop new procedures for selecting or removing library books.

“We will review and follow TEA guidelines,” said Sherri Williams, Director of Strategic Communications at Fort Bend ISD. 

A spokesperson at Alief ISD told the Defender that the district has its own guidelines and has had very little push back from parents. They will continue to listen to parents concerns and protect their students.   

Library materials are recommended to be professionally selected based on standard material some include the following:

  • Demonstrate, literary merit, quality, value, and significance
  • Include accurate and authentic factual content from authoritative sources
  • Are requested or recommended by students and teachers
  • Represent diverse viewpoints and cultures appropriate to each campus to ensure the collection embodies the unique backgrounds of its student population

In November 2021, Governor Greg Abbott directed TEA, Texas State Library and Archives Commission and State Board of Education to develop these guidelines.  Abbott gave examples of two memoirs titled: Gender Queer: A memoir by Maia Kobabe and In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, about LGBTQ character which included graphic images and illustrations of sexual content. Both books were removed from Keller Independent School District and Leander Independent School District.

In a letter to Governor Abbott, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said that “there have been several instances recently of inappropriate materials being found in school libraries,” and that “School boards can choose to adopt policies that define procedures and processes used within their school systems in a host of operational areas.”

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...