- A GOP lawmaker led pressure to ban books in Texas, a I found a Houston Chronicle investigation.
- In 2021 Rep. Matt Krause asked school districts to review a list of 850 books.
- Texas now has the highest number of book bans in the United States.
Texas librarian Caroline Foote began noticing a trend in the spring of 2021 as she began preparing for retirement—the challenges facing children’s books in school libraries, especially with regard to race and gender, were on the rise.
After leaving her position, she said that what greatly accelerated the ban was a file List of 850 books For counties for review sent in October 2021 to the Texas Education Agency.
“I’ve been a librarian for 29 years and we’ve had three book challenges,” Foote, co-founder of the #FReadomFighters movement told Insider.
Texas is now a leader in book bans, and an influential politician—along with pressure from the Republican Party—may have been the driving force, I found a Houston Chronicle investigation.
Vice-President Matt Krause – Also President Public Inquiry Committee, which conducts inquiries about government matters – Ask a book query to rate how many school districts have books on the topics that “contain material that may cause students to feel discomfort, guilt, distress, or any other form of psychological distress.” On race or gender, according to a letter I got Texas Tribune.
Book reviews were optional (Krause didn’t have the authority to make them mandatory), but after the list came out, Texas Governor Greg Abbott shared, Click on schools to review books that contain “pornographic or obscene material”.
By April 2022, a PEN America analysis found That Texas has 713 bans, nearly half of all book bans in the United States.
“You know, we’d like to take credit if we could do that.”
Chronicle’s analysis found that of the 2,080 books reviewed for removal in schools that districts have conducted since 2018, two-thirds of the reviews occurred after Krause submitted his list.
In an interview with Insider, Krause disagreed with the assertion that it all comes down to one politician, and said that parents in the state are the ones who care about the kinds of books their children read.
“You know, we’d like to take credit if we could do that,” Krause said. “But there’s really nothing to take credit for. We just joined what we’ve already heard from a group of parents about the state of concern about books in certain school districts.”
Many of the titles on Krause’s book list were written by authors of color and LGBTQ authors. Chronicle’s analysis found that this influenced the types of book reviews that dominated school districts: 1,334 book reviews looked at stories on LGBTQ+ while 609 featured people of color or discussed racial issues.
Krause told Insider that he could not determine whether or not his office created the list due to “pending or potential investigations.” He also told the Dallas Morning News in 2021 that he doesn’t believe I have read Any of the books on his list.
Krause told Insider that the reason for his efforts is to ensure that schools comply with a Texas “race and gender” law passed during the 2021 legislative session.
Abbott Signed the Critical Race Theory Act in June 2021, which prohibits subjects that would cause students to “feel discomfort, guilt, distress, or any other form of psychological distress because of one’s race or gender” in the social studies curriculum. was the law It was replaced by the more comprehensive Senate Bill 3 in December.
Krause voted yes on both HB 3979 and SB 3 in the House.
Texas didn’t pass any LGBT education laws during the last legislative session, but Texas Governor Dan Patrick announced this year that he will Prioritize the passage of a style law After what critics call Florida ‘Don’t Say Like Me’ Law.
“I think it’s good for students, and I think it’s appropriate and healthy for students to be exposed to different viewpoints, different viewpoints, ideologies, beliefs and things like that while we go to school, but I think you can do it in an age-appropriate, and in a reasonable and appropriate way.”
Krause told Insider that the only character disapproving books that came to mind were “The Fairer Sex” by Maya Cobabe and “Lawon Boy” by Jonathan Iveson. Both books deal with LGBTQ topics and contain some sexually explicit material.
But Foote said many of the books she found on the list did not contain explicit material and there was no academic rigor applied to creating the list.
“If this list is really meant to make sure schools are in compliance with the law, I’m not entirely sure how all these types of titles made it to the list,” Foote said. “It seems to be more targeted in terms of someone’s belief systems.”
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of the nonprofit LGBTQ Advocacy Texas EqualityThe number of books with LGBTQ characters and authors on Krause’s list is worrying, he said, especially due to the large number of anti-LGBTQ bills. inserted In the Texas Legislature in 2021.
“It’s disappointing that we are seen as such an easy punching bag,” Martinez told Insider.
Krause is notorious for being at odds with the LGBTQ community in Texas
Krause represents District 93 in Tarrant County, which includes parts of Fort Worth and Arlington. He served his district for five two-year terms.
In 2022, he ran for election District attorney But he lost the primary. He also ran for state attorney general, but his name did not appear on the ballot.
Krause’s legislative record, particularly on LGBT issues, has put him in the spotlight before: In 2013, Texas Equality appointed him Most lawmakers are homophobic. He has also sponsored and authored several anti-LGBTQ bills, such as 2017 HB 1923, which would have allowed companies to refuse service to same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. The bill did not pass.
Krause was an adjunct professor at Liberty University Online, an evangelical college in Virginia that banned “statements and behaviors associated with homosexual and transgender states of mind” as well as pronouns that differed from the gender assigned at birth, Dallas Morning News It was reported in 2021.
He also has links with WallBuildersa Christian organization that seeks to emphasize “the moral, religious and constitutional foundation on which America is built,” the Morning News reported.
Krause is also anti-abortion and I tried before – and failed – to establish the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade as a statewide “Day of Tears”.
He defended himself over the Dallas Morning News article, saying that although his faith “plays a role in everything I do,” it wasn’t the reason for starting the investigation.
Krause will leave office next year and will not raise another inquiry about the books, but he said Texans may still see lists of books reviewing other legislation — it all depends on who is at the head of the inquiry.
Some politicians and parenting groups disagreed with the question
Krause denies there was any political motive behind the book list, but critics disagree.
For Foote, the book ban is the GOP’s political motivations, citing it School Board Officials And lawmakers who started their book had challenges.
not everything School districts complied With Krause’s investigation, many books remained in schools after revisions were made. ISD is banned or partially banned in Northeast San Antonio 119 books included in the Krause documentmore than any neighborhood, after pulling hundreds of books off the shelves for review.
In a statement to the Chronicle, a spokesperson for the National Institute for Strategic Studies and Research said the books had been misplaced in a primary library due to “age-appropriateness” concerns. A NEISD spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Krause’s colleague on the Texas Public Inquiry, Representative Victoria Neff Creado, has been against his calls for counties to review their reading material, previously calling the book’s investigation a “whitewash” of history.
—Victoria Neave Criado (@Victoria4Texas) October 28, 2021
A representative for Criado did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The New Frontier of Banning Books: Self-censorship
Foote, along with other Texas groups, has taken some strides in keeping books on the shelves.
But now, says Foote, what underlies the book ban is the self-censorship that librarians now grapple with in anticipation of a backlash from politicians or parental groups or fear of personal repercussions.
“We don’t know how many things aren’t being bought now because teachers are afraid of having them in their classrooms, because libraries are afraid of getting them…so there’s a kind of self-censorship and self-censorship – self-control happens because people are afraid,” Foote said.
School Library Magazine A survey of 720 US school libraries Which was taken in May and found that librarians are subject to self-censorship. Nearly 30% of respondents said they decided not to buy books with LGBTQ characters.
This leads to a “chilling environment,” Foote said, for both librarians and students who find themselves in the midst of these battles.
“The fact that by removing books or censoring books about LGBTQ people or people of color, we’re basically telling them that you don’t belong in our library,” Foote said. “Your history does not belong to our libraries, which means you do not belong here.”