The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is investigating a Fort Worth school district to see if its schools offer obscene books to students. TEA is the branch of government responsible for public education in the state.
The 74, a news outlet focusing on education issues, said, “The TEA can only investigate issues that fall within education law, but such an investigation could provide the agency with enough information to refer the case to law enforcement.”
While the TEA is starting its investigation into the Keller Independent School District, parents across the state are also checking out local school libraries to see what books are being offered to their children.
The TEA investigation follows a directive from Governor Greg Abbott, demanding an investigation into pornography in school libraries. In a letter to Dan Troxell, the Executive Director of the Texas Association of School Boards, on November 1, the governor wrote:
A growing number of parents of Texas students are becoming increasingly alarmed about some of the books and other content found in public school libraries that are extremely inappropriate in the public education system. The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that have no place in the Texas public education system.
These parents are rightfully angry.
Parents have the right to shield their children from obscene content used in schools their children attend. They are right that Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.
A copy of the governor’s letter was also sent to the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Board of Education, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
When the Texas Association of School Boards decided not to help local boards of education remove pornographic and vulgar materials from school libraries, Abbott sent a letter to TEA which said:
While the Texas Association of School Boards has refused to assist their member school boards to address this issue, the State of Texas must act for the sake of Texas students and parents.
That is why I am directing the Texas Education Agency to investigate any criminal activity in our public schools involving the availability of pornography. During this investigation, I ask the agency to refer any instance of pornography being provided to minors under the age of 18 for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
But parents are investigating books in their local school libraries, not leaving the work solely to government agencies. As The Texan recently reported, “Following a lackluster response from local school district leaders, parents are increasingly attending school board meetings to read aloud from explicit materials available to students through public schools.”
Six parents from the Katy Independent School District, on the outskirts of Houston, read aloud from books, all found in local schools’ libraries, during the public comment period at the district’s board meeting in November. Before the readings, the school board president warned the audience that “speakers might use ‘vulgar language’ during the meeting.”
He said, “I would ask that you refrain from doing that [i.e., reading excerpts], but I can’t forbid you from doing that. So, if you [are] a parent with children in the room and you think they may get offended I just wanted to prepare your mind; there may be some vulgar language. You may want to step outside with your child.”
One of the parents, Mary Ellen Cuzela, appeared on a local radio station after the board meeting. The host told his audience that “he could not share the content Cuzela had read during the board meeting since the material would violate obscene content rules enforced by the Federal Communications Commission.”
The books are too obscene for public radio or school board meetings, but just fine for school children to read.
The district superintendent responded by notifying parents “that the administration would formulate a plan for reviewing all of the district’s young adult literature and would work to improve the vetting process for future materials.”
All this started when Stacy Langton, a mom with students in Fairfax, Virginia schools, spoke out against two highly objectionable books, Gender Queer and Lawn Boy, at a public school board meeting. That kicked off a firestorm which led to Governor Abbott and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster demanding investigations of books in their states.
More recently, Langton called out 12 school board members after they investigated the two books and returned them to school library shelves. Langton also confronted a local library that had a “Christmas display” featuring little gnomes with miniature versions of the books she had objected to.
According to The Daily Mail, the display included a gnome with an LGBT rainbow hat holding up the Bible. The library has since taken down the display, but Langton still has a rally scheduled for noon on Saturday, December 11, outside the Dolley Madison Public Library, to protest “Holiday Hate.”
Langton has started a “Mama Grizzly” group to fight objectionable material in public schools. Her story offers encouragement to other parents and concerned citizens who are angry about the sexualization of children, demonstrating the impact one person can have.
Related articles and resources:
Back to School – For Parents – A busy parent’s guide to what’s happening in your children’s classrooms and practical steps you can take to protect them.
Fairfax County Puts Obscene Books Back in School Libraries
Governors Demand Investigations into Pornography in School Libraries
Mom Banned from School Library after Confronting School Board Over Pornographic Books
School District Pulls Books with Graphic Sexual Content from High School Library After Parents Protest
Photo from Do Better FCPS/YouTube.