Texas Library Association forms coalition against banning books

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Library Association (TLA) has launched Texans for the Right to Read — a grassroots coalition against efforts to ban certain books across the state.

The fight over which books are allowed inside public and school libraries has become more heated in recent months following an investigation that launched in October 2021.

Texas representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) called on the Texas Education Agency to require schools districts to investigate if they are using certain books on their campus pertaining to race and sexuality.

In an Oct. 25 letter to the Texas Education Agency that was first obtained by the Texas Tribune, Krause, R-Fort Worth, wrote he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content” in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigations.

The Texas Library Association has roughly 5,000 members made up of school, public, academic and special librarians. It says it hopes the coalition will amplify the voices of its members calling to keep the books.

“TLA believes that individuals have the right to free inquiry and the equally-important right to form their own opinions. Freedom in selecting materials is a necessary safeguard to the freedom to read and must be protected against irresponsible attempts by self-appointed censors to abridge it,” wrote a spokesperson for TLA.

The new coalition aims to inform and organize Texans who oppose efforts to ban books.

“The right to receive an education is something that is foundational to America,” TLA President Daniel Burgard said. “Possibly the most important skill students learn is how to develop a curious mind and think critically about a broad spectrum of subjects. Removing books based on the subjective opinions of elected officials has no place in our state or our democratic republic.”

The association says many of the targeted books are written by or about individuals from marginalized groups.

“These individuals are being told, essentially, that their experiences are not acceptable, and others need to be protected from them,” wrote the association.

Although parents who are against the books argued this isn’t necessarily what opponents are saying.

“Nobody has malicious intent. Nobody is trying to say we don’t want to hear anything from these groups or things like that,” said Marne Litton.

Marne Litton pulled her students out of Leander ISD for a variety of reasons. The book issues is one of them.

“If I took my kids to go see a pornographic movie that talked about strap ons, or oral sex… then I would absolutely have CPS called on me, because that would be considered inappropriate,” Litton said.

The release from the TLA also said the ‘right to receive an education is something that is foundational to America.’

Litton responded with this:

“The other thing they said is ‘the right to receive an education is something that is foundational to America.’ Wow, how are we defining education these days? Is it oral sex and strap ons? Because that is not how I define education,” said Litton.

In September 2021, Lake Travis ISD pulled a book from two middle schools following complaints.

The book is “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez.

The book chronicles a love affair between an African American boy and a Mexican American girl against the backdrop of a horrific 1937 explosion in East Texas, which killed nearly 300 schoolchildren and teachers, according to an NBC News article published just after the book was released.

Parents who opposed the book at the time of its removal spoke up during a board meeting saying: “I do not want my children to learn about anal sex in middle school.”

A Lake Travis parent read a sexually-explicit passage from the book during the September school board meeting.

The district ultimately pulled the book from the two middle schools.

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