On October 25, 2021, Texas State Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) sent a letter to school districts across the state, asking them to review a 16-page list of books that may contain some "objectionable content." "Pursuant to Government Code Section 301.020(a)(4)," he wrote, "the Texas House Committee on General Investigating may initiate inquiries concerning any 'matter the committee considers necessary for the information of the legislature or for the welfare and protection of state citizens.'"
In addition to his compiled list, Rep. Krause alsoasks the districts to identity any other books or content that may "address or contain" certain topics including:
human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), sexually explicit images, graphic presentations of sexual behavior that is in violation of the law, or 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.
In other words, government authorities are coming after books with positive portrayals of racial, sexual, and gender diversity and/or disability. Same as it ever was. In this case, the attack is being framed with the vocabulary of the "anti-CRT" hysteria, feigning concern about students feeling "guilty" about the fact that other people throughout history may have unfairly suffered because of their race, gender, or ability.
Anyway, here's the full list. You might notice some common themes. It includes several books with "Black Lives Matter" in the title, and several others critical of policing. Multiple nonfiction books and memoirs on LGBTQIA+ lives and history, as well as books on how we categorize and assess gender. They're even targeting a book about the history of the man who invented Wonder Woman (because he was a polyamorous feminist into S&M and also invented the polygraph)! Pretty much every book with "Roe v Wade" in the title is on there as well; in fact, that goes all the way back to Michael Crichton's 1969 novel A Case of Need. Hell, there are a bunch of basic teen pregnancy and burgeoning sexuality books on there, too. They've even got Alan Moore's V for Vendetta on there, and the utterly delightful new Latinx trans YA fantasy Cemetery Boys. The graphic novel version of The Handmaid's Tale. Oddly, they list a 2019 book called "The Last Man" by author Brian K. Vaughan, which is presumably supposed to be the 2002-2008 comic book series Y The Last Man but sure. Oh, and of course, They called themselves the K.K.K. : the birth of an American terrorist group needs to be banned as well — wouldn't want anybody feeling bad about being in the fucking KKK.
When I shared the news with my friend Michael Barakiva, whose queer YA novels One Man Guy and Hold My Hand are both on the list, he said, "I am truly honored and flattered to be included on this list. I'd like to thank everyone in Texas for their consideration and thoughtfulness."
Anyway I'm sure all of those Cancel Culture profiteers will be filling their Substack newsletters with furious creeds about this injustice, right? </sarcasm>
Texas lawmaker says 850 books ranging from race to sexuality could cause 'discomfort' [Corky Siemaszko / NBC News]
Texas House committee to investigate school districts' books on race and sexuality [Brian Lopez / Texas Tribune]
Image: San José Public Library / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)