Students in Texas Form Book Clubs to Counter Far Right Bans

Students in Texas are fighting right-wing book banning campaigns by starting book clubs and giving banned titles to their peers.

Rep. Matt Krause (a Republican in Texas’ state legislature) wrote to Texas school districts last year inquiring if they had any of the 850 books he deemed offensive or inappropriateIn their libraries. Soon after, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) sent an order to the Texas Education Agency to investigate whether schools were providing students access to these books, describing them as “pornography.”

The books being challenged by right-wingers in the state are far from being sexually explicit – but many of them do explore themes like race, gender identity and sexuality, and depict characters that are nonwhite and/or non-heterosexual. Students have reported that while some books were banned because they contained inappropriate sexual content for their age, many others were allowed to be read, provided they are heteronormative.

“They’re OK with heterosexual scenes, heterosexual ideas. But the second something turns slightly, slightly queer, slightly homosexual, it discomforts them,” said Maghan SadeghiA senior at Katy Independent School District, (ISD), a suburb in Houston, is pictured here. “It’s the same thing with [people of color] viewpoints. ​​Why do we have to remove books about Black people and Asian Americans simply for the sake of white people’s comfort?”

Cameron Samuels, a nonbinary student who also attends a Katy ISD high school, added that these books are being singled out precisely because they depict people and identities that some parents or political groups don’t want acknowledged.

“These policies have dire consequences for us because they keep us struggling with our queer identities,” Samuels said.

Sadeghi, Samuels, and other students from the district have partnered up with publishers and political organizations in the area in order to distribute books that were previously restricted. According to reporting from The Texas TribuneMore than 100 students have signed up for the project.

The publication also stated that students from other Texas districts are taking similar steps in order to ensure that their peers have access to banned titles. Leander Independent school District, just outside Austin, has formed a banned book club. This group meets every other week to discuss books that were removed from classroom libraries.

The majority of Texans are against campaigns to ban books from schools libraries. A University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll from FebruaryIt was found that 62 percent of Texans opposed the removal of books from school libraries. Only 29 percent support the idea.

The problem isn’t just in Texas, however. Conservative parents and groups from across the U.S. are demanding that school libraries ban books on subjects they are not comfortable with.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Submitted Truthout This was earlier in the yearFrom September 1 through December 1, 2021, the group recorded challenges to 330 books across the country. “The attempt is based on the myth that the U.S. is a monocultural society,” Caldwell-Stone explained, “but libraries and schools serve diverse populations. The right wing is pushing back against efforts to be inclusive.”