Texas county moves to restrict ‘explicit’ and ‘objectionable’ books at public libraries

A Texas county has recently made a decision to impose restrictions on certain books in public libraries. The Commissioners Court of the county voted on July 11th to limit access to “explicit” or “objectionable” material for individuals under the age of 18. This restriction includes books with LGBTQ themes, as reported by KHOU.

During a commissioner’s court meeting, Lisa Palmer expressed her concerns about the agenda to sexualize children at a young age. Another person, Michele Nuckolls, mentioned her inability to find books representing the traditional conservative Christian view of gender.

However, Teresa Kenney, a local bookshop owner, challenged the restriction at the meeting. She argued that this restriction sends a message that there is something wrong with individuals who identify as LGBTQ. Kenney emphasized the importance of inclusivity and representation in literature, stating that everyone deserves to see themselves and have hope through books, regardless of their background or identity. At her store, she stocks books on a wide range of topics, including the Bible and LGBT+ themes.

Kenney criticized the trend of book bans in the county, highlighting that while parents have the right to determine what their own children read, they should not impose their views on other parents and children.

The article also mentions another development taking place in Texas. The Houston Independent School District, the largest public school district in the state, is converting libraries in 28 schools into multi-use centers and eliminating librarians, according to Houston Public Media. This change is part of the district’s reform program called the New Education System, which aims to cater to students who require additional support in the classroom.

The article further highlights that attempts to ban books have been on the rise. PEN America reported that in the first half of the 2022-2023 school year, there were at least 1,477 attempts to ban 874 individual book titles. Texas, along with Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina, had the highest instances of book bans. PEN America also noted that books by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals were specifically targeted for banning.

Additionally, Texas booksellers are challenging House Bill 900, which mandates book vendors to assign ratings to determine whether the material describes or portrays sexual conduct in an offensive manner. The bill was signed into law by Texas Governor Abbott in June and will take effect on September 1st.

The decisions made regarding book restrictions in Texas have sparked debates about censorship, inclusion, and the right to access diverse literature. While some argue for parental control, others emphasize the importance of providing a wide variety of reading materials to promote understanding, empathy, and representation. It remains to be seen how these developments will impact the availability of books and the freedom to read in Texas.

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