Feds Open Investigation Into Texas Schools After Removal Of LGBTQ Books
A Texas school district is facing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) civil rights office after its superintendent was accused of discriminating against LGBTQIA+ students while ordering the removal of certain books from its libraries.
The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights is looking into the Granbury Independent School District, located southwest of Fort Worth, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a DOE spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
The DOE declined further comment due to the ongoing investigation.
News of the investigation, first reported by NBC, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, follows the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) requesting a federal review of the district, under Title IX, back in July after it reportedly removed more than 125 books pending review for inappropriate content. Nearly 75% of these books are related to LGBTQIA+ characters or themes, the ACLU said.
The ACLU also cited comments made by the schools’ superintendent to his schools’ librarians in January that reportedly denied the existence of transgender and non-binary individuals. A recording of the remarks was obtained by NBC News.
“There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women, and there are women that think they’re men,” Granbury Superintendent Jeremy Glenn told librarians at a district meeting, according to NBC News. “I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”
Glenn reportedly cited Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s demand in November 2021 that state education officials develop statewide standards that prevent “pornography” and “other obscene content” from entering libraries. In addition, Abbott specified two memoirs that feature LGBTQIA+ characters and graphic images and descriptions of sex.
“I think specifically what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is. And I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this. It’s the, it’s the transgender, LGBTQ, and the sex — sexuality in books,” Glenn told school officials. He added that Granbury is a “very, very conservative community,” and those who don’t confirm should “hide it.”
The Granbury School District later announced that its committee of educators and community members tasked with reviewing the books ultimately found eight books that were “sexually explicit and not age-appropriate.”
“Two of the eight books did have LGBTQ+ themes, however, all of the books that were removed had sexually explicit and/or pervasively vulgar content,” it said back in March.
A representative for the school district did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Efforts to ban books have proliferated nationwide over the past two years, along with threats to librarians.
The American Library Association (ALA) reported in September that the number of book challenges seen during the first eight months of this year nearly matched 2021′s total, which was the highest in decades.
“It used to be a parent had learned about a given book and had an issue with it. Now we see campaigns where organizations are compiling lists of books, without necessarily reading or even looking at them,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told The Associated Press.
ALA President Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada said the censoring isn’t about kids — it’s about politics.
“Efforts to censor entire categories of books reflecting certain voices and views shows that the moral panic isn’t about kids: it’s about politics,” she said in a past statement. “Organizations with a political agenda are spreading lists of books they don’t like.”