Map of school district book bans in Houston, Texas
A KHOU 11 News Investigation revealed that a number of Houston-area school districts have banned and restricted entry to a number of books.
HOUSTON — Nationwide, bans and challenges to books in school libraries and lecture rooms are on the rise. The American Library Association tracked challenges to 1,597 books in 2021. That’s nearly 4 instances greater than in earlier years.
At the ten largest districts in Greater Houston, dozens of books had been reviewed this school year, a KHOU 11 News investigation uncovered. But just a few districts banned books. Which titles had been banned relied on the district: Books that remained on the cabinets in some had been eliminated in others.
Three Katy ISD college students participated in the general public remark portion of the school board meeting on Monday, May 16 to plead with members to deliver again the books.
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“I shouldn’t have to continue this fight for six months to see an overwhelming number of book challenges,” Seven Lakes High School senior Cameron Samuels mentioned.
“We can advocate for change, but our voices will not truly carry equal weight until we have a tangible and transparent process to create positive results,” Jordan High School junior Alison Franks mentioned.
Katy ISD removes books
This school year, Katy ISD eliminated 10 books it deems “pervasively vulgar” from its school libraries and lecture rooms, greater than another district. Students, corresponding to Jordan High School sophomore Zahra Bakrin, mentioned it places some college students at a drawback.
“School libraries are one of the primary sources for literature for a lot of students that don’t have access to public libraries due to distance, or just availability in general for kids who don’t always have enough funds to be able to purchase books for themselves to keep,” Bakrin mentioned.
Samuels and Franks hoped to impact change by serving to college students acquire entry to titles that had been in jeopardy of being eliminated.
“A lot of them were actually books I had read that really shaped me or had an impact on me, whether I agree with them or not. I felt, like … what’s going to happen if we ban these books? And then it spirals,” Franks mentioned.
In February, as half of an occasion known as “FReadom Week,” Franks, Samuels, and different Katy ISD college students distributed tons of of copies of books underneath overview by the school district.
“I felt empowered to see that students were leading these efforts to ensure that all students could have the resources they need to support themselves,” Samuels mentioned.
Which books had been reviewed?
KHOU 11 Investigates requested the 10 largest school districts in Greater Houston for an inventory of books they reviewed. We found 81 challenges to 62 books this school year.
The books ranged from LGBTQ novels questioned for sexual content material – “Gender Queer,” “Lawn Boy,” “All boys Aren’t Blue,” “Flamer” and “This Book is Gay” — and books mother and father declare to advertise important race concept — “The Breakaways,” “New Kid” and “Out of Darkness” — to the Bible and a biography of Donald Trump.
“This is a culture water against LGBTQ BIPOC students. Students are not political pawns. But parents and certain people in the community are treating us as such,” Samuels mentioned.
Of the 81 book challenges, 42% had no adjustments, 27% had been restricted to older grades and nearly a 3rd ended in the elimination of 18 titles. But solely 4 of the ten districts eliminated books.
Which books had been banned?
Four books had been eliminated in a number of districts – “Jack of Heart (and other parts)” was eliminated in three whereas “Forever for a Year,” “The Nerdy and the Dirty” and “Gender Queer” had been eliminated in two districts.
But for the remaining titles, the books that had been eliminated had been inconsistent throughout districts.
Five of Katy ISD’s banned books — “Lawn Boy,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “The Handsome Girl and her Beautiful Boy,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “Out of Darkness” — had been reviewed by different districts however allowed to stay in school libraries.
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One of these titles, “Out of Darkness,” was reviewed by 4 districts and three — Cy-Fair, Clear Creek and Conroe ISDs determined to maintain the book in excessive school libraries. Katy ISD was the one one which eliminated the book completely.
Cy-Fair and Klein additionally banned one book every that was stored in different districts. Cy-Fair banned “The Breakaways” whereas Katy and Clear Creek ISDs determined to maintain the book and limit it to center school college students and older. And Klein banned “Flamer,” whereas Cy-Fair, Katy and Clear Creek all stored the book on excessive school cabinets.
Parents in favor of banning books
Mary Ellen Cuzela, mom of three Katy ISD college students, mentioned she learn 4 of the 5 books Katy ISD banned. She has spoken to the school board in favor of proscribing the books.
“If we put these books up on a movie screen, those movies would be rated R or NC-17. We have boundaries for movies. We have boundaries for what they can search on the internet. We have filters. That’s what the district does with their internet access. So, we need boundaries for books,” Cuzela mentioned.
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Cuzela added her position on books has nothing to do with LGBTQ tradition.
“That is not what this is about. It is about keeping sexually explicit, vulgar material away from minors that don’t need it. It’s not educational. They don’t need that kind of entertainment. It has nothing to do with how a child identifies or any other kind of ideology. It has nothing to do with race either,” Cuzela mentioned.
Students disagree with bans
But the scholars we spoke to say the books merely replicate their realities.
“I understand where these parents are coming from, but at the same time, these books aren’t pornography. They’re not, like, erotica, or anything like that. It’s just a story,” Bakrin mentioned.
And eradicating books with LGBTQ themes “sends a clear message that they (LGBTQ students) are not supported by an educational institution that is meant to support them first,” Samuels mentioned.
Katy ISD declined our request for an interview. They as an alternative despatched us a hyperlink to the district’s instruction overview course of, saying, “Your best resource for more information on the District’s instruction review process is the FAQ webpage and policies EF Local and EF Legal.”
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As for the districts that didn’t ban books, three of them — Houston, Aldine and Pasadena ISDs — mentioned they didn’t get any complaints or overview books this year.
Fort Bend, Humble and Conroe ISDs mentioned they obtained complaints, and a few are at the moment underneath overview, however they haven’t eliminated any books this school year.