In a recording of a January meeting obtained by BNC NewsProPublica and the Texas Tribune, Granbury ISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn can be heard telling district librarians to remove books for review at the request of parents and administrators.
“Let’s call it what it is, and I’ll cut to the chase, it’s transgender, LGBTQ and sex – sexuality in the books. That’s what the governor said he’s going to sue people for, and that’s what we’re taking back,” he said at one point during the closed-door meeting.
Over the next two weeks, the librarians put away about 130 books. According to an analysis by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, about three-quarters of them involved LGBTQ characters or themes.
The district released a statement on Wednesday:
Above all, at Granbury ISD, all students are important. We serve students from diverse backgrounds and, regardless of their environment or circumstances, all of our children are valued, supported and cared for by exemplary staff. In Granbury and across Texas, we see parents backing down and demanding that elected officials put safeguards in place to protect their children from content that is vulgar, sexually explicit, and serves no academic purpose.
The district is aware of comments made by the superintendent in an effort to comply with Governor Abbott’s request that pornographic and sexually explicit books be reviewed and possibly removed from public school libraries. Upon receipt of the letters from Rep. Krause and Governor Abbott, the district identified the books listed as being in library collections across multiple campuses. The district has formed a review committee in accordance with district policy. This independent review committee was made up of educators and community members from diverse backgrounds. The Superintendent did not participate in the review process.
Ultimately, the review board determined eight books to be sexually explicit and not age-appropriate. Two of the eight books had LGBTQ+ themes, but all of the books that were removed had sexually explicit and/or pervasive content. The Granbury ISD Libraries continue to house a socially and culturally diverse collection of books for students, including books that analyze and explore LGBTQ+ issues. Granbury ISD provides the appropriate venue, through EF Board (local) policy, for individuals to challenge literary and instructional resources in a manner consistent with protecting students’ First Amendment rights.
Granbury ISD will continue to work with parents to put the needs of our children first. Our administration and staff will continue to prioritize literacy, which includes opportunities for students to develop as readers. The district is committed to ensuring that appropriate materials are available for reading of student choice. Most importantly, GISD is committed to providing all students and staff with a safe learning environment that demonstrates tolerance and equality. The selection and review of library materials is an ongoing process. GISD will continue to follow its policies on the selection of course materials to keep our libraries current. Like all school districts, our community values will always be reflected in our schools; however, our primary obligation remains to focus on the academic growth and development of our students.
The Granbury Book Challenge is just the latest in a nationwide movement closely watched by the American Library Association and librarians and professors in the University of North Texas library science department.
“I think my reaction to this particular case is concern for the wider community in that particular area or any area where this is starting to happen, because if we take down all the books that someone in a community doesn’t doesn’t agree, there won’t be any books left. , basically,” said Sarah Evans, assistant professor of library science for children and young adults.
Evans and fellow associate professor Jennifer Moore said that in schools, librarians follow a rigorous book selection process, including a test for obscenity established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. California.
“Libraries are expected to meet the needs of all their users. And we know that patrons, users, we are all different, right? We have different interests; we have different experiences. And the thing is, not all books appeal to all readers. And that’s okay, absolutely, but it’s up to a parent or guardian to decide what to read to their child,” Moore said. “It’s very important for parents to engage with their own children to talk about their values and what they want their children to read and what they don’t want their children to read, but they can’t dictate what other young people can read or have access to.”
You can read more about this story from NBC News by click here.