Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday called on the state’s school board organization to remove books that contain “extremely inappropriate” content from school libraries, citing growing outrage among parents.
“A growing number of parents of Texas students are becoming increasingly alarmed about some of the books and other content found in public school libraries,” Abbott wrote in a letter (pdf) sent to Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). “The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that have no place in the Texas public education system.”
The parents “are rightfully angry,” the governor noted, adding that they have the right to shield their children from “obscene content” used in schools.
“Collectively, your organization’s members have an obligation to determine the extent to which such materials exist or are used in our schools and to remove any such content,” Abbott said. “You must also ensure transparency about the materials being taught in the classroom and offered in school libraries.”
The TASB said it doesn’t have regulatory authority over school districts, neither does it set the standards of what books should be in their libraries.
“In most school districts, the review and selection of individual library materials traditionally has been an administrative responsibility managed by professional district staff,” a spokesperson for the association said in a statement.
Abbott’s letter came after Republican state Rep. Matt Krause, the chairman of the House Committee on General Investigating, asked public school districts to report possession of a list of over 840 books.
The 16-page list (pdf) includes titles that are popular among social and racial justice activists, such as “Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” and “How to Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander, and books about Black Lives Matter.
Also on the list are books focusing on transgender, gender identity, homosexuality, adolescent sexuality, pregnancy, and abortion, including those discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade.
Specifically, Krause asked school districts to report on how many copies of each listed book they possess, and how much money was spent on those books.
Krause further asked that school districts identify any other books that cover topics including “human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or HIV or AIDS, sexually explicit images, graphic presentations of sexual behavior that is in violation of the law,” or contain material that might violate a new state law by conveying that students are inherently racist or sexist or should feel guilt because of their sex or race.
The school districts will have until Nov. 12 to respond to those questions, according to the letter.