The Texas School District is reviewing more than 400 books, pulling them off the library shelves – Times of India

Lubbock: A San Antonio, Texas, school district has removed more than 400 books from the library shelves, including a list of works that a conservative state lawmaker says may be inappropriate for children.

The North East Independent School District said in an emailed statement Wednesday that it was reviewing 414 books and that most would probably be returned to library shelves after review for age suitability.

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The review report comes as free speech advocates are expressing concern about the increase in calls to ban books. The district said the review was in response to parents’ concerns and a response from state representative Matt Krauss to a claim that all Texas school districts have about 850 books listed in their libraries as potentially inappropriate. Most books address gender, sexual orientation or race.

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“For us, it’s not about politics or censorship, it’s about making sure parents choose what is best for their minor children,” said Abrey Chancellor, communications director for the North East Independent School District.

He said the district is adding electronic devices that will allow parents to see which library books their children are accessing and some students may need parental permission to examine books.

Freedom of speech advocates, such as Deborah Caldwell Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, are concerned.

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Stone said attempts to ban certain books from the school library had existed for a long time, but he did not see so many people trying at the same time.

Stone said conservative groups are putting on social media lists of books they want to ban. Parents in different parts of the country then took the complaint to the school authorities, requesting a review.

“They’re looking at books that have given voice to the traditionally marginalized people in our society, and seemingly encouraging censorship of school boards and libraries,” Stone said.

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PEN America, which seeks to protect free speech, says Texas is at the center of a national political pressure from Republican lawmakers to haunt books on race, gender and sexual identity.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on state education regulators in November to investigate the use of pornographic books in school libraries.

In October, State Representative Krauss, as chairman of the House Committee on General Investigations, informed the Texas education agency that his committee was beginning an investigation.

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Jonathan Friedman, director of free speech and education at PEN America, said the Texas effort is deeply troubling and part of an unprecedented trend that has hit several states.

Friedman said he sees a wave of school districts moving forward with demands to restrict access to books.

“The trend is very clear. It’s a broad, comprehensive effort to capture any kind of book on racism, gender, and gender, regardless of the way those books deal with the subject matter,” Friedman said.

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Krauss’s office and the Texas Education Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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