These are the most contested books by Texas school districts


Texas school districts are facing a wave of book-related challenges from local lawmakers and parents, all of whom aim to keep specific titles on topics they deem inappropriate out of the reach of students.

This process was started by an October letter from Republican State Representative Matt Krause to Texas School Districts, in which he questioned whether a list of 850 books that he said could “put students in trouble. at ease ”was stored in school libraries and classrooms. Most of the books listed in the 16 page spreadsheet deal with race and racism, sex education and LGBTQ topics.

In November, Governor Greg Abbott followed up with instructions sent to the Texas Education Agency asking them to notify it of any “case of pornography provided to minors under the age of 18 for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.” .

The two messages were sent amid debates across Texas and many other states over how topics such as race and racism should be discussed in schools. On December 2, the Lone Star State also implemented a so-called Critical Race Theory law prohibiting teachers from discussing “a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.”

As different titles are pulled from school shelves in response to these requests, some have come under more scrutiny than others. Below are the books that have been targeted most often in recent challenges, surveys, and subsequent deletions in Texas schools.

Out of the darkness“by Ashley Pérez

Loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, this 2015 novel uses the 1937 New London School explosion in east Texas – where a natural gas leak ignited and killed some 295 students and staff at the school – as the backdrop to an interracial love story between a black boy and a Mexican American girl.

The novel has been temporarily withdrawn from Leander ISD Book Club Optional Course and Class Libraries along with 10 other titles following a year-long review, which found the content inappropriate. In Keller ISD, the book is now only available in high school libraries – but not on open shelves with other books – and requires parental consent for students to view due to its “violence and difficult imagery. ”The title was also listed in Krause’s investigation.

During a nationwide education for students on Wednesday hosted by PEN America, a nonprofit that promotes literature and free speech, Pérez noted how the themes of his book are still relevant despite the story. taking place 84 years ago.

“What I wanted to do in ‘Out of Darkness’ was first of all to write the kind of historical novel that my old high school students in Texas would have finished and I wanted to center the experiences that were pushed to the fringes of the conversations of there. ‘history of our communities, “said Pérez.” I also wanted’ Out of Darkness’ to make connections between stories of racial violence and misogyny in our current realities. “

Pérez went on to say, “Unfortunately, what’s happening in 2021 is a huge effort to silence this conversation, to stop critically engaging with our history. So a book like ‘Out of Darkness’ that asks people to sit down with the roots of our current racialized violence are under attack for these reasons.

lawn boy“by Jonathan Évison

This semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel tells the story of Mike Muñoz, a Mexican-American young adult who has faced challenges since childhood and is now going through a phase of self-discovery. The book was recently pulled from North East ISD in San Antonio for “very descriptive details of sexual encounters,” according to the Houston Chronicle. (Chron and the Houston Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of each other.)

The novel was also one of five titles recently withdrawn from Katy ISD for containing “ubiquitous vulgar content” and was included in Krause’s roster. In September, a parent of Leander ISD told school board members at a meeting that the book was “full of obscenity and sexual content.” The said the Leander Police Department in September that he was investigating reports of obscenities in the book.

In September, Evison told the Washington post his book was intended to explore the themes of capitalism, wealth disparity, and racial assumptions. He also denied accusations that his work contained pedophilia, responding to concerns some parents had about an adult male in the book recalling a sexual relationship he had with another fourth-grader while he was himself. also in the fourth year.

He also defended his novel in a Facebook post on December 3: “Let those so-called book banners be willing to admit it, their children almost certainly have gay friends, impoverished friends, and non-white friends facing the same issues. , my protagonist Mike deals with. This book is modern realism. Much of America lives under similar circumstances to Mike’s, dealing with wealth inequalities, racial assumptions and gender identification issues. “

Evison went on to write that the underlying reason people want to ban his book is because “they don’t want representation for people beyond straight, white Christians. They don’t want to recognize it. inequality of wealth, non-binary racial or gender assumptions. identifiers. “

Alan Moore’s “V for Vendetta”

Perhaps one of the oldest books that has been targeted, the classic 1982 graphic novel by acclaimed author Alan Moore depicts a dystopian post-apocalyptic England ruled by a fascist regime and details a growing revolution against it. The protagonist of the book disguises himself as Guy Fawkes, a 17th century English conspirator who became a symbol of resistance.

The now 40-year-old comic was adapted into a blockbuster Warner Bros. movie. of the same name with Natalie Portman, released in 2005. The novel was recently withdrawn from the Leander ISD classroom libraries and the optional book club program. It was also among more than 400 titles taken from North East ISD for review to “make sure they did not contain any obscene or vulgar content” and was also included in the investigation of the Book of Krause.

“The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel” by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault

Originally published in 1985, this dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood is set in a fictitious and near-future fertility crisis, where the US government has been overthrown by a totalitarian theocracy. In order to rebuild the population, the new government has reintroduced the biblical practice of forced surrogacy. More ironically, the company began to crumble after the government banned certain books.

The young adult novel, which was adapted into an award-winning Hulu original series in 2017, has often been contested for a variety of reasons, but mostly for its disturbing sex scenes and anti-Christian appearance. This made the The American Library Association’s Ten Most Contested Books of 2019 as well as the ALA’s list of the top 100 banned books in the entire decade for the 1990s and 2000s.

Recently, the book was listed in the Krause Investigation and was one of 11 titles withdrawn from Leander ISD as well as North East ISD after being deemed inappropriate for students.

“Flame” by Mike Curato

Award-winning author and illustrator Mike Curato draws on his own experiences for his first graphic novel in 2020. The story, set in 1995, follows 14-year-old Aiden Navarro, a Filipino American who went to a boy scout camp. summer before her freshman year of high school who struggles with bodily issues and comes to terms with her sexuality and identity. The book was recently removed from the shelves of the Keller ISD and North East ISD school libraries. He also made Krause’s list, which primarily targets books with LGBTQ themes.

Earlier this month, Curato signed a joint statement by the National Coalition Against Censorship as well as over 600 authors, publishers and activist groups calling for an end to political attacks on books in public schools.

“In communities across the country, an organized political attack on school books threatens the education of American children,” the statement said. “These continued attempts to purge schools of books represent a partisan political battle waged in school board and state legislature meetings. The undersigned organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about this sudden increase in censorship and its impact on education , student rights and freedom of expression. ”

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