Texas House Launches Probe Into School Library Books’ on Race and Sexuality
20:16 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 19:30 GMT 03.11.2022)
A Texas lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school libraries’ books on issues of race and sexuality following a measure passed by the legislature earlier this year that prohibited teachers from teaching critical race theory at public schools.
Acting as the Chairman of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) asked school leaders to identify where copies of specific books were located in library shelves and classrooms, and the amount of funds spent by districts to acquire the books, according to an October 25 letter
directed at the Texas Education Agency obtained by the Texas Tribune.
Kraus also asked districts to provide information about specific books that deal with race, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or any material that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race or sex.
The Republican lawmaker informed districts they must also provide information on any other book that violates House Bill 3979
, a “critical race theory law” designed to control and prohibit the instruction and discussions about certain concepts related to race, sex, and diversity in public schools.
A 16-page list
of books published from 1969 to 2021 was attached Krause’s letter, amongst the books included were “Beyond the Gender Binary” by Alok Vaid-Menon, that challenges the world to see gender with full acceptance, to last year’s book club favorite, “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot“ by Mikki Kendall.
The letter went to school districts without a vote from the full committee on investigations, with several districts already beginning to compile the information requested by Kraus.
“At a time when schools are focused on keeping students and employees safe in the midst of a global pandemic and addressing the learning gaps that developed over the last two years, this sort of empty political grandstanding, which will divert time and energy away from the real work, is incredibly frustrating,” Kyle DeBeer, Waco Independent School District chief of staff, said in a statement
to the Tribune-Herald.
In a statement
obtained by The Hill, the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) called the letter a “political overreach” and a “witch hunt.”
“This is an obvious attack on diversity and an attempt to score political points at the expense of our children’s education,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said. “What will Rep. Krause propose next? Burning books he and a handful of parents find objectionable?”
Krause did not provide a specific reason in the letter as to why this investigation was taking place, only that “the committee may initiate inquiries concerning any ‘matter the committee considers necessary for the information of the legislature or for the welfare and protection of state citizens.’”
School officials have until November 12 to respond.