A public library in Llano County, Texas, will close for three days and take down online access as librarians are forced to hunt through the children’s books for “objectionable content.”
And by objectionable they mean books about racism and LGBTQ issues.
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“I think we owe it to all parents, regardless if it’s a school library or a public library, to make sure that material is not inappropriate for children,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said. The court requested a “thorough review” of the contents of the children’s section.
The closure is only the latest move in the state’s war on education as evangelical Christians, white nationalists, and Trump supporters storm school board meetings and attack the state’s curriculum.
Over the past few years, protests outside of children’s story hour events at libraries have become common as conservatives terrify children to own the libs. A Christian zealot checked out and burned four books on LGBTQ issues while Republicans have made it illegal to teach about racism honestly in several states.
Six librarians have been given the task of rooting through the materials to deem items “age-appropriate” for younger readers. The library says it plans to add a “young adults” section for teenagers.
“A library may get one or two [book challenges] in two years, or some librarians have never had challenges,” Wendy Woodland, director of advocacy and communication for the Texas Library Association, said. “So this is very rare and very unusual and different from the way challenges have been brought forth in the past.”
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has accused schools of stocking porn in their libraries in a stern letter sent to the wrong board. The Texas Association of School Boards said they were “confused” about the letter since they have “no regulatory authority over school districts” and don’t set any standards for library books.
In October, state Rep. Matt Krause (R) sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency that included a list of 850 books, demanding schools share how many copies of each book they have and how much money they spent to obtain the books. Most of the books were about LGBTQ topics or racism, including titles like And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings, and Black Lives Matter: From Hashtag To The Streets by Artike R. Tyner.
In November, the Keller school district got complaints from several parents about Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel, Gender Queer: A Memoir. The book tells the story of Kobabe’s journey to accepting eir identity as non-binary and asexual and explains ideas around gender and sexual identity.
While librarians and teachers have been threatened with violence and children are left in tears, Woodland said that Krause’s call for book bans and protests definitely “ramped it up.”
“These efforts to mute or censor diverse voices in books is part of the just overall extreme divisiveness in our country that was really just exacerbated by the pandemic, [and] the actions taken by Rep. Krause and others have added fuel to that,” Woodland said.
“No book is right for everyone, but one book can make a big difference in one person’s life,” she added. “That’s what libraries are about — providing those windows and doors and mirrors to the community.”