Texas Lawmaker Demands Schools Tell Him If They Have Books on Race, Sexuality

Texas Republican lawmaker John Conyers announced that he is opening an investigation into Texas public school libraries. He wants districts to report on whether they have books from a list with hundreds of titles about issues like race and gender.

A letter Submitted to the Texas Education Agency from state Rep. Matt Krause (R)The chairperson of the state House Committee on General Investigating asked that superintendents of schools scour their school librariesKrause asked for information to determine if they have titles from the 850 books he considers problematic. Krause also requested additional information about those books and other similar books, including the amount of money spent by the districts to obtain them.

Krause wants to know if these books are available for students to borrow from their libraries. Any books that “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” should be reported to him, his letter said.

Krause didn’t say that the books should be removed from the shelves. Krause did, however, mention in his letter that the books should be removed from the shelves. five school districts in the state that removed books from their librariesIn response to parents’ complaints, a new law was passed that bars critical race theory and any other concepts related to racism or race in the classroom.

This June-adopted law prohibits schools teaching contentious curricula. The law’s broad scope has already had some unsettling consequences, as evidenced by one Texas school district. the administration told teachers they had to teach “opposing” perspectives of the Holocaust.

The list of books Krause is seeking information onThe collection is extensive and includes many award-winning writers. One of the books, “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967. A book written by Ta-Nehisi Coates called “Between the World and Me” is also on the list, as is “How to Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

Books on sexuality are being targeted by Krause, including “LGBT Families” by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee and “The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents” by Michael J. Basso. The graphic novel iteration of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is also on the lawmaker’s list.

Author Kalynn Bayron, who wrote the young adult LGBTQ book “Cinderella Is Dead,” which is featured on Krause’s list, wrote in a social media post that in spite of the lawmaker’s pursuit, young people would still read books like hers.

“I’d like Matt Krause to know that nothing he does will keep my work out of the hands of young readers,” Bayron said on Twitter. “Texas educators are, for the most part, amazing people and we work together to make sure the work gets to the kids who need it most.”

State Rep. Victoria Neave, a Democrat from Dallas who is vice chair of the investigations committee, called Krause’s inquiry a political move. Krause is running to become Texas’s next state attorney general.

“This is an obvious attack on diversity and an attempt to score political points at the expense of our children’s education,” Neave said in a statement.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, agreed that Krause’s actions do appear to be based on politics.

“He’s not well known statewide, and so he needs to put down a pretty tall conservative flag to get notice,” Rottinghaus told The Texas Tribune.