Biden Administration Investigates Texas Schools for Removal of Books

One of the targeted titles, ‘This Book Is Gay,’ provides readers with graphic instructions on how to perform sex acts.

Via Wikimedia Commons
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building at Washington, D.C. Via Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Education is launching a civil rights investigation into a Texas school district for the removal of books with sexually explicit content from school libraries.

The Office of Civil Rights’ investigation of the Granbury Independent School District, which educates just fewer than 7,000 students about 40 miles west of Fort Worth, comes in response to a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

The ACLU of Texas argues the removal of the books constitutes a Title IX violation on “the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation” because all target books were “related to LGBTQ+ inclusion.”

The Texas Tribune calls the investigation the “first-of-its-kind” that explicitly centers a civil right investigation around the removal of books from a library, since liberal literature and curricula in schools have galvanized activists across the country to protest the “gender ideology” and “critical race theory” being taught.

In January, the district’s superintendent, Jeremy Glenn, instructed librarians to remove books dealing with “transgender, LGBTQ, and sex [and] sexuality,” according to an audio recording that was leaked in March to NBC News, ProPublica, and the Texas Tribune.

Citing parental concerns, Mr. Glenn asked for the removal of more than 100 books in the school library — including “This Book Is Gay,” a resource book for teenagers on coming out that has become a focus of parental rights activists across the country. The book contains chapters titled, “Where to Meet People Like You,” which advises readers on how to use gay dating apps such as Grinder, and, “The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex,” which instructs readers on sexual acts.

“I don’t want a kid picking up a book — whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality — and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Mr. Glenn told the librarians, before affirming that “there are two genders.”

“Granbury is a very, very conservative community,” Mr. Glenn told librarians, stopping short of accusing them of subverting communal norms. “If it is not what you believe, you better hide it. Because it ain’t changing in Granbury.”

The ACLU’s complaint accused Mr. Glenn of creating “a chilling atmosphere” for gay and transgender students. 

“The atmosphere created by Superintendent Glenn’s comments and by the book removals remains — a school environment that is pervasively hostile to LGBTQ+ and especially transgender and non-binary students,” the organization wrote in its complaint, filed in July.

More than 100 books were temporarily removed from the shelves, but most of them returned after a volunteer committee reviewed the content — including “Being Jazz: My Life as a Transgender Teen” and “Safe Sex 101: An Overview for Teens.” Meanwhile, “This Book Is Gay” and several other titles remain out of the school libraries.

The intervention by the Biden administration in the policy disagreement between school librarians and parents is illustrative of the growing tension between conservative parents and liberal educators — fueled by Covid school closures and ideologically driven lessons on race and gender.

While Granbury is a city, a recent study by Jay Greene of the Heritage Foundation and Ian Kingsbury of the Educational Freedom Institute found stark differences in political values between teachers and other residents in rural Texas counties. 

In the most recent gubernatorial election, more than 90 percent of campaign donations from public school employees in rural areas went to Democratic candidates. Governor Abbott, a Republican, cruised to victory in the same areas, winning more than 80 percent of the vote.

Two rising Republican stars, Governors Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have both hitched their wagons to the movement of parents asking for more oversight of their children’s education.

Political analysts attributed Mr. Youngkin’s 2021 electoral victory to the mutual support between the candidate and parent activists. Mr. Youngkin campaigned on promises to involve parents in their children’s classrooms and to “ban critical race theory on day one.”

His Democratic opponent, Governor McAuliffe, was criticized for his support of teachers unions and opposition to parental involvement in curricula. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said during one debate. 

In a statement, the ACLU of Texas praised the Department of Education for looking into the possible Title IX violation.

“By choosing to open this investigation in response to our complaint, the federal government is signaling that remedying discrimination against LGBTQIA+ students is a top priority and that school districts cannot deny students the right to be themselves in school, be it through book bans, discriminatory comments, or other harmful policies,” the group said.

The New York Sun

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