Bell County: What’s in Your Public School Library? (Part Two)
Part One of this series highlighted the battle over sexually explicit content (excerpts included) in public schools. This second installment now turns to the ongoing information operation deployed by advocates seeking to keep traditionally adult content in children’s libraries.
“Book Ban” crowd gears up for a new school year
The American Library Association is already promoting its annual Banned Books Week. The event, ironically a project of its Office for Intellectual Freedom, might be contributing to states severing ties with what’s increasingly seen as a Marxist organization.
But in the spirit of intellectual freedom, let’s inject some honest analysis to the “book ban” discussion which is, at best, a silly argument. To begin with, it’s not only void of historical context, but a position transparently designed to inflame and promote an emotional response rather than a mature discussion about a serious subject.
While our use of the term “pseudoporn peddlers” could similarly be viewed as inflammatory, the terminology’s factual accuracy is evident as shown in this series’ first part with even the briefest review of the content at issue. Historic book bans in no way correlate to the concerns expressed and actions sought today.
Book bans, as with other forms of censorship, are about control. With that, the education-industrial complex (EIC) – which includes organizations such as the ALA and Texas American Federation of Teachers – wants to position “book banners” (aka parents and other concerned parties) as intrusive and unqualified to weigh in on children’s education. Of course, this is the industry also seeking to intimidate the public via its purported, self-promoted guise of professionality (i.e., educators know best).
As HB 900 was being debated, the Texas AFT stated:
Books highlighting LGBTQIA+ experiences and perspectives are already frequent targets of book bans in local school districts statewide. Librarians worry that this proposal would further limit their ability to educate. The vague terminology about what is considered “harmful” materials in the bill would likely have a chilling effect on teachers. Texas AFT opposes both SB 13 and HB 900.
With the passage of the bill, Texas AFT published a report on Katy ISD’s efforts to comply with the new law. Per the article, though bill sponsor House Rep. Patterson “alleges” the bill is not designed to be a book ban, “numerous public education advocates including Texas AFT stated that the bill would effectively ban books that focus on Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ experiences, regardless of the intended effect.
The article goes on to discuss how the district has halted book sales and is exploring options until the logistical ramifications of this new legislation settle out. No doubt many, if not most, of Texas’ 1,000+ districts are addressing the same situation and if districts are as accomplished as we’re routinely told, they’ll handle it.
The takeaway from this article is three-fold.
- Texas AFT well illustrates the EIC’s manic need for operational and cultural control of its domain as well as an indignation of challenges to its authority through legislation like HB 900. Besides Texas AFT, this attitude is evident within organizations like the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). Responses to library book pushback have revealed similar attitudes often within local ISD administrations and even down to the campus level.
- The EIC resents forced adaptation to this new dynamic (HB 900), one to which the EIC is ideologically opposed and has been blocked from dictating the rules.
- As school districts temporarily halt book purchases, this financial disruption negatively impacts the EIC internal ecosystem and that is never acceptable.
Those who ban books are generally the bad guys and must be thwarted by – you got it – the good guys. It’s why the term is being misused and why it’s so important to push back with regard to library book content.
A final note about the Texas AFT/Katy ISD article illustrates this point. It concludes:
This is not the first time that Katy ISD has been in the news for banning books. Last year, the board changed district policy to require parent permission for secondary students to check out classroom library books. In response to the increased scrutiny, one Katy ISD teacher went as far as to remove all “Young Adult” books from her classroom library to avoid controversy.
Notice how the actions described hardly match up with the “banning books” allegation.
Texas AFT seems a fan neither of this district nor parental involvement. Never mind acting in what appears a good faith effort focused on serving the needs of constituents (students, parents, taxpayers and voters). This board must be exposed for its sins. Let’s remind the world that Katy ISD is nothing but a bunch of bigoted book banners!
And though the article does depict Katy ISD’s pragmatic response to implementation of the READER Act, anyone viewing only the “In Response to Book Ban Bill, Texas School District Halts All Book Purchases” headline and the “Come and Take It” graphic would get a significantly different impression.
Sleazy or sloppy? Hard to know, but either way, there’s a term for this type of communication. Propaganda!
Historically, people who want to ban books are fascists or other authoritarians. Per the EIC, parents and other concerned parties want to ban books. Banning books is bad. Therefore, parents and other concerned parties must be bad. And as that leaves an opening for the good guys, enter the EIC standing ready to protect your children.
Starting to see how it works?
Book banning mythology
Ban the books? Quite the contrary. There is, however, a thing of which some of us are big believers. It’s called freedom.
Let the books exists. No one is arguing that. Authors should write the books. Publishers should print the books. Consumers desiring to buy the books should do so.
Recognize though that as an exercise of freedom, there is an appropriate time and a place for these books as well as a time and place where people can choose to be free from this content.
There seems strong agreement that childhood is not the right time and a public school is not the right place. And in what discerning society would education bureaucrats be tasked as arbiters of sexualizing children?
A quick side note. Let’s also remember that taxpayers, not education bureaucrats, fund public schools. Dominating a public school fiefdom may be a heady experience, but don’t forget who pays the bills.
Parents, free to take exception with their children’s exposure to this content, aren’t unyielding book banners. They are responsible adults seeking to protect students’ emotional and mental health. That’s the point, the point that seems purposefully ignored.
Those who seek to portray concerned parents and others are “book banners” do so with the intent of mischaracterizing the effort. It’s an attempt to sidetrack the real issue – the book content and the effect such content portends for students.
Silliness has occurred with the potential (or sometimes actual) removal of classic titles like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation. These are not the issue and trying to make them so smacks of a thinly veiled ploy to provide a deflective talking point.
Bottom line. Don’t be fooled by the calculated effort to distract and mislead from the important conversation.
Age restrictions abound
Many activities are regulated based on age. Most public school students are minors (under the age of 18) and with that, their access to various activities and items is restricted. Why does the EIC think sexually explicit library books should be an exception?
What type of things are restricted? Everything from voting and enlisting in the military or getting married without parental permission to signing a legal contract, opening a bank account, buying a car or even giving consent to medical care.
Age restriction workarounds
Accessing adults-only stores and content has traditionally been another restricted activity, however, a convenient workaround now exists with the pseudoporn content currently available in many public school libraries.
Drag queen story hours and subsequent all-age drag shows – sometimes privately held, but often with school, public library or other government institution sponsorship – have served as another offshoot for exposing minors to traditionally restricted adult entertainment.
“A Drag Queen Christmas” sparked controversy last year as the troope toured several Texas cities. Per Texas Scorecard:
“That was the most sexual and inappropriate ‘family friendly’ drag show I have ever attended,” independent journalist Tayler Hansen said of the event.
In the Austin show last December, a crossdressing male performer danced around stage with a box on his chest that displayed his fully nude, fake breasts.
Another performance in the Austin show was titled “Screwdolph the Red-nippled Reindeer.” This performance simulated sex for audience members, with performers humping each other, grinding, and shoving their faces in each other’s fake breasts.
In response to growing public concern, SB 12 will also go into effect Sep. 1. The bill regulates sexually oriented performances and restricts those performances on the premises of a commercial enterprise, on public property or in the presence of an individual younger than 18 years of age. It also institutes penalties that can include up to a $10,000 fine per violation for the hosting businesses while performers and participants can face misdemeanor penalties.
This series is highlighting a body of books seen with growing concern due to strong sexual content. But more importantly, parents, taxpayers, other interested parties should review the books themselves. Defer to no one. See, decide for yourself.
The books in our district listings include links to either sample text (when available) or additional content descriptions.
Check back as the final installment discusses content moderation v. censorship along with some uncomfortable truths. We’ll also include our last school district book listings.
Lou Ann Anderson worked in Central Texas talk radio as both a host and producer and currently hosts Political Pursuits: The Podcast. Her tenure as Watchdog Wire–Texas editor involved covering state news and coordinating the site’s citizen journalist network. As a past Policy Analyst with Americans for Prosperity–Texas, Lou Ann wrote and spoke on a variety of issues including the growing issue of probate abuse in which wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney are used to loot assets from intended heirs or beneficiaries.
Copperas Cove ISD