Texas Senate passes bill requiring schools to inform parents of books checked out by kids

The Texas Senate passed a proposal Thursday that would require schools to inform parents of all books their children check out of campus libraries.

The bill from Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is among the latest proposed laws from Republicans as conservative lawmakers say they want to give parents more power over what kids learn in public schools.

The proposal formalizes a process for parents to have books removed from a school while also placing district trustees in the driver seat for determining what books line campus library shelves.

Paxton said she authored the bill after she was contacted over sexually explicit materials in school libraries over a year ago. “My first thought was surely this was something being blown out of proportion,” she said.

“I cannot unsee what I saw,” Paxton said on the Senate floor. “More importantly a child cannot unsee sexually explicit materials, and this certainly shouldn’t happen in a school library of all places.”

Many districts already have book review processes already in place and some districts provide parents access to their child’s library records.

The Senate passed the bill on a party line vote 18-12 with one Republican absent. It now heads to the House for consideration.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made passing the bill one of his top priorities for this year’s legislative session.

Critics say the bill could lead to politicized books bans, censor nonwhite and LGBTQ+ viewpoints and undermine the work of librarians.

Before voting against the bill, Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, said the proposal tells teachers that “we don’t trust them. We want oversight over them and that we don’t want any materials in our library that would be objectionable.”

The bill — Senate Bill 13 — requires school boards to create local library advisory panels with a majority of members made up of parents.

Those boards would make recommendations on any books a school district wants to add or remove from libraries. They would also oversee the complaint process for parents either challenging a book or appealing a decision to remove a book.

The parent advisory boards would resemble state-required local district health advisory councils, which make recommendations on sexual education curriculum.

Books could not be removed solely for having content that is adverse to a local library council’s or school board’s general social viewpoint, under the bill. But they could be removed on grounds of obscenity and adult content ironed out in federal case law and FCC guidelines.

Paxton’s bill is not the only proposed law at the Legislature aimed at public school libraries. Frisco Republican Rep. Jared Patterson filed one he is calling the “READER Act” that would require book vendors to provide content ratings on books with sexual subject matter.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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