“Black Lives Matter: From Hashtag to the Streets.” “The Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears.” “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.” What these books all have in common is that they are on an investigation list by a Texas Republican who wants to know if they are being shared in schools.
On Tuesday, The Texas Tribune reported about a letter sent by Republican State Rep. Matt Krause, who is the Chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, to the Texas Education Agency and school superintendents about school district content. Krause attached a 16-page addendum with over 850 books, many of which discuss themes of race, history, sexuality, and LGBTQ issues.
Krause would like to know how many copies of each book the school district possesses and whether district funds were used to purchase the books. Additionally, Krause is asking each school district to report similar content.
“Please identify any other books or content in your District, specifying the campus location and funds spent on acquisition, that address or contain the following topics: human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), sexually explicit images, graphic presentations of sexual behavior that is in violation of the law, or contain material that might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” wrote Krause.
According to the Tribune, Krause, who is running for Attorney General, did not inform the Vice Chair of the Committee, State Rep. Victoria Neave about this investigation. “His letter is reflective of the Republican Party’s attempt to dilute the voice of people of color,” she told the Tribune.
Many of the books on the investigation list are by prominent Black authors including Mikki “This Is Your Time,” by Ruby Bridges, the civil rights pioneer, is also on the list.
Krause’s list also includes several books with LGBTQ content including the popular young adult novel “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” The novel, about two young boys growing up in El Paso, was named one of the “Best Teen Books” by Kirkus Reviews in 2013.
Books about sex and sexuality are also featured prominently on the list including “Gender Identity: The Ultimate Teen Guide” and “Safe Sex 101: An Overview for Teens.” A book about Wonder Woman, “Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine,” is also targeted.
What can and can’t be taught in public schools has become a fraught issue recently. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed House Bill 3979, a school censorship bill that heavily restricts what can and cannot be taught in public schools.
Several school districts have made headlines over recent decisions, including when Katy ISD decided to cancel an appearance from acclaimed children’s book novelist Jerry Craft. Several of Craft’s books are on Krause’s list.
Another book on Krause’s target list is “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” by Anastasia Higginbotham. Her anti-racism picture book was cited by Republican Steve Toth when he was trying to get more sponsors for HB 3979 in the Texas House.
In Krause’s letter to the Texas Education Agency and superintendents he requested that districts respond by November 12.