- A Houston Chronicle study found that a Republican lawmaker led the move to ban books in Texas.
- In 2021, State Rep. Matt Krause asked school districts to review a list of 850 books.
- Texas now bans the most books in the United States.
Texas librarian Carolyn Foote began noticing a trend as she began preparing for retirement in the spring of 2021. In particular, there was increasing challenge for children’s books in school libraries on race and sexuality.
After leaving the post, she says what greatly accelerated the ban was a district-reviewed list of 850 books sent to the Texas Department of Education in October 2021.
“I’ve been a librarian for 29 years and had three book assignments,” Foote, one of the founders of the #FReadomFighters movement, told Insider.
A Houston Chronicle study found that Texas is now a leader in book bans, and that, in addition to pressure from the Republican Party, one of the most influential politicians may have been the driving force behind Houston’s book ban. – Clarified in the investigation of Chronicle.
State Rep. Matt Krauss, who also chairs the General Commission of Inquiry that investigates government issues, has books on topics that “contain materials that may offend or guilt students.” A book question was issued to assess the number of school districts that , anguish, or any other form of emotional distress,” is based on race or gender, according to a letter obtained by the Texas Tribune.
Book reviews were voluntary (Krause had no authority to mandate them), but after the list was published, Texas Governor Greg Abbott was involved to review books containing “pornographic or obscene material.” put pressure on the school.
By April 2022, PEN America’s analysis shows that Texas will have 713 book bans, nearly half of all book bans in the United States.
“If we can do that, we want to take credit.”
An analysis by The Chronicle found that of the 2,080 books that districts considered for removal in schools since 2018, two-thirds of them were reviewed after Krause submitted the list. .
In an interview with Insider, Krause disputed claims that it all came down to one politician, saying parents across the state are paying attention to the kinds of books their children are reading.
“If you can do that, you know, I’d love to take the credit,” Krause said. “But nothing is credible. We’ve really just joined what we’ve already heard from many parents around the state who are concerned about the books they have in certain school districts.”
Many of the titles on Krause’s book list were written by authors of color and LGBTQ. The Chronicle’s analysis found that this influenced the types of book reviews that dominated school districts. 1,334 book reviews considered articles about LGBTQ+, and 609 book reviews prominently featured people of color or talked about racial issues.
Krause told Insider he could not determine whether his office made the list because “there are pending or potential investigations.” He also told the Dallas Morning News in 2021 that he believed he had never read the books on the list.
Klaus told Insider that the reason for his effort is to make sure the school complies with the Texas law on “race and sexuality” passed during the 2021 legislative session.
Abbott signed into law the “Critical Race Theory” Act in June 2021, stating that social studies curricula will not allow students to “feel displeasure, guilt, distress, or other forms of mental distress because of an individual’s race or gender.” Prohibition of material that “feels physical pain.” This law was replaced by a more comprehensive Senate Bill 3 in December.
Krause voted in favor of both HB 3979 and SB 3 in the House.
Texas didn’t pass an LGBTQ-specific education law in its last legislature, but Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick this year passed a law critics called Florida’s “don’t say gay” law. announced that it would give priority to passing laws modeled on
“I think it’s good for students, and I think it’s appropriate and healthy for students to be exposed to different perspectives, diverse perspectives, ideologies, beliefs, and stuff like that in school, but I think I think you can do it in an age-appropriate, reasonable and appropriate way,” Krause said.
Krause told Insider that the only personally objectionable books that came to mind were Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy.” Both books cover LGBTQ topics. It contains sexually explicit content.
However, Foote said many of the books on her list did not contain explicit material, and there was no academic rigor applied to the list.
“If this list was really intended to make sure schools were complying with the law, I don’t quite understand why all those kinds of titles were on the list.” It seemed more focused in terms of belief systems.”
Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of the LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit Equality Texas, said LGBTQ characters and authors would be on Krause’s list, especially in 2021, due to the numerous anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the Texas legislature. There is concern about the number of books in circulation.
“It’s a shame people think we’re easy punching bags,” Martinez told an insider.
Krause is known to be at odds with the LGBTQ community in Texas.
Krause represents Tarrant County’s 93rd District, which includes parts of Fort Worth and Arlington. He served his two-year term five times.
In 2022, he ran for district attorney but lost the primary. He also ran for state attorney general, but his name did not appear on the ballot.
In 2013, Equality Texas named him the state’s most homophobic legislator. He also sponsored and created multiple anti-LGBTQ bills, including his HB 1923 in 2017. This allowed companies to deny service to LGBTQ couples based on their religious beliefs. The bill never passed.
Krauss is an adjunct professor at Liberty University Online, an evangelical college in Virginia that prohibits “speech and behavior related to LGBT states of mind” and pronouns that differ from the gender assigned at birth. the Dallas Morning News reported in 2021. .
He also has ties to the Wall Builders, a Christian organization that seeks to highlight the “moral, religious, and constitutional foundations on which America is built,” The Morning News reported.
Krauss is also an anti-abortion advocate and has previously tried, unsuccessfully, to establish the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling as a statewide “day of tears.”
He defended himself in a Dallas Morning News article, saying his faith “plays a role in everything I do,” but that it wasn’t the reason he started investigating.
Krause, who plans to step down next year and doesn’t plan to investigate another book, said Texans could continue to see a list of books considering other laws.
Some politicians and parent groups opposed the inquiry
Krause denies any political motives behind the book list, but critics disagree.
For Foote, the book ban represents Republican political motivation, citing school board officials and lawmakers who have launched their own book challenges.
Not all school districts responded to Krause’s survey, and many books remained in schools after the review took place. San Antonio’s Northeast ISD has banned or partially banned 119 books listed in Krause’s dossier after pulling hundreds of books off its shelves for review.
In a statement to Chronicle, a NEISD spokesperson said the book had been misplaced in an elementary school’s library due to concerns that it was “age-appropriate.” A NEISD spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Rep. Victoria Neve Clearard, a colleague of Krause’s on the Texas General Commission of Inquiry, objected to his call for the district to reconsider the reading, previously calling the book’s inquiry a “fake” of history. is.
—Victoria Neave Criado (@Victoria4Texas) October 28, 2021
A representative for Criado did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
New Frontiers in Book Ban: Self-Censorship
Foote, like other groups in Texas, have made some progress with keeping books on the shelf.
But now lurking behind book bans is self-censorship, something librarians are grappling with for fear of backlash from politicians and parent groups, as well as personal repercussions.
“I don’t know how many things aren’t being bought right now because teachers are scared to put them in their classrooms, because libraries are scared of it. It’s self-restraint that’s happening because people are scared.” said Mr Foote.
A May School Library Journal survey of 720 US school libraries found that librarians practiced self-censorship. Nearly 30% of respondents said they decided not to buy books featuring LGBTQ characters.
Foote said the result is a “chilling environment” for both librarians and students to find themselves in the middle of these battles.
“By removing or censoring books about LGBTQ characters and characters of color, we’re basically telling them you don’t belong in our library.”Your History doesn’t belong in our library, which means you don’t belong here.”