Civil rights

Civil Rights Groups Slam Texas GOP’s ‘Illegal’ Book Banning Efforts

Two prominent national civil rights groups on Tuesday lambasted the efforts of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and State Representative Matt Krause, both Republicans, to force school districts to censor hundreds of books, including many Popular LGBTQ + titles, reproductive rights and racial justice, following the passage of laws banning the teaching of racist history in the United States and prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in interschool athletics.

“Students need materials and information created with themselves in mind, in which they can see their own identities and experiences reflected.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and LGBTQ + advocacy group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. released a statement condemning “the efforts of Texas politicians to force schools to start removing books from their classrooms. classroom and library shelves under the guise of state law. “

Last month, Krause (R-93) sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency demanding the disclosure of schools in the state that have one of the roughly 850 books listed on a spreadsheet compiled as part of a state law prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory. , legislation that a Dallas-Fort Worth area school administrator cited when asking teachers to counter Holocaust education with “opposing” views.

As NPR reports:

Books on Krause’s List include titles such as The Great American Anyway, a young adult novel by Tim Federle, and Pink is a girl’s color... and other stupid things people say, a children’s picture book by Stacy and Erik Drageset. Non-fiction books are also on the list, from How prevalent is racism in society ?, by Peggy J. Parks, on behalf of Amnesty International We were all born free: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pictures.

At least 11 of the books focus on the benchmark Roe vs. Wade decision. that of John Irving The rules of the cider house, whose main characters include a doctor who performs abortions, is also on the list. Many books speak of race. The list includes An African-American and Latin history of the United States, a title well reviewed by University of Florida historian Paul Ortiz who seeks to add nuance and precision to America’s long-accepted histories. The list also includes that of Mikki Kendall Hood Feminism: Notes of Women Forgotten by a Movement.

According to Lambda Legal, Krause, who chairs the State House General Investigations Committee, asked the Texas School District “to identify other books and documents dealing with human sexuality, HIV, AIDS and more. document likely to cause discomfort, guilt, anxiety in the pupils. , or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender. “

Following Krause’s letter, Abbott called on the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the State Board of Education to “immediately develop statewide standards to prevent the presence pornography and other obscene content in Texas public schools, including school libraries. . “

“These letters are part of an ongoing extremist campaign to intimidate educators and push them to selectively self-censor on issues critical to the learning and development of young people.”

“These letters are part of an ongoing extremist campaign to intimidate educators into selective self-censorship on issues critical to the learning and development of young people,” said the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under the law. in a press release.

David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, said “Rogue politicians need to be checked and right now Representative Krause is way out of bounds. of our Constitution “.

“For decades our courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, have held that the First Amendment protects the right to information and ideas and that library books are at the heart of that protection,” continued Hinojosa. “We are not going to sit idly by while Krause, Governor Abbott or whoever makes these veiled threats to force schools to start pulling important books about racism, sexism, [and] gender, among other subjects, only because they don’t agree with those ideas. “

Lambda Legal staff attorney Avatara Smith-Carrington said in a statement that “Gov. Abbott and Representative Krause’s political stunts are part of a larger, nation-wide effort to suppress schools public information and material that politicians disapprove of. Such efforts raise serious problems. The amendment concerns and is, in many ways, an attack on our informed democracy. “

“Krause’s investigation and letters from Governor Abbott calling coming-of-age stories pornography simply because they involve LGBTQ people are attempts to create educational environments riddled with censorship of ideas and topics. that students deserve to have access to, ”continued Smith-Carrington. “Students need materials and information created with themselves in mind, in which they can see their own identities and experiences reflected.”

“We will not sit idly by watching politicians play games with the education and well-being of our children,” they added.


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