Another book pulled from Spring Branch ISD as statewide book investigation underway

Miya Shay Image
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Another book pulled from Spring Branch ISD as investigation underway
"This is Your Time," Valerie Koehler reads out the title of the book by Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges, "It's an inspirational book," she says wistfully.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- "This is Your Time," Valerie Koehler reads out the title of the book by Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges.

"It's an inspirational book," she says wistfully.

RELATED: Spring Branch ISD says it banned book over sexual content, not because it has transgender character

The New York Times bestseller may be written by the first child to integrate an all-white New Orleans public school. But in Texas, it is among approximately 850 book titles being investigated by a state lawmaker.

"You have every right to say, 'This book is not going to be in my house,'" said Koehler, who has owned and operated Blue Willow Bookshop for 25 years. "But when you say, 'Your kid can't read this book, your kid cannot go to the library and check this book out,' that's when we start to think, constitutional rights."

The issue of books in school libraries is boiling hot in Texas right now, and there are no signs of it simmering down.

Last week, State Rep. Matt Krause from north Texas sent a letter to public school districts across the state. Krause asked school districts to locate approximately 850 books on a list he sent the school administrators.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Abbott joins Republican lawmaker's campaign to investigate books in Texas schools

He wants the schools to catalogue the books, report how many they have, where they are located and report how much money was spent on the books.

Krause also demanded that districts find other books that focus on sexuality, sexual identity and sexual behavior. He wants districts to report back to the General Investigations Committee, which he chairs, by Nov. 12.

"Having a list of 850 books because they have something to do with race or something to do with LGBT issues, that's a problem," said Mandy Giles, a Houston-area mother with two non-binary children.

Giles, who founded Parents of Transgender Youth, said while it's appropriate to review books to make sure they are the right choices based on student ages, casting a wide net of 850 books is clearly a problem.

RELATED: Book pulled from from Katy ISD after parent petition is now back on library shelves

"People are doing this, just, 'Let's just pull them all,' and I'm like, 'Wait a minute, what if someone's kid wants to read that book?'" Giles said.

The investigation, though, isn't being panned by everyone.

"I think it's the start of a conversation," said Lisa Andrews Alpe, a parent in Spring Branch ISD. "I did look at that list. I think there are some books on there that are perfectly fine and others that are not."

Alpe, who is also an attorney, has led an effort among some SBISD parents to review books in school libraries.

The district recently pulled a book called The Breakaways from elementary shelves. The subject matter of the graphic novel, which covered some same-sex relationships among teenagers, drew ire among some parents.

Then, a few days ago, SBISD pulled another book, Gender Queer, from high school libraries.

The autographical comic has graphic images of sexual acts. SBISD released a statement about the move.

"We quickly reviewed the book and found that it contained images that were pervasively vulgar," school representatives said. "If a book includes pervasively vulgar materials, the district can remove it from the libraries before beginning a formal reconsideration process. Therefore, because it contained pervasively vulgar materials, we removed it from our libraries pending the formal reconsideration process."

Alpe said other books are also being looked at by parents.

"We found probably close to 100 books that we are concerned about," she said.

At SBISD, every book that is brought up by a parent will go through a full academic review by the administration.

However, it is less clear what Rep. Krause will do with his list of 850 books.

Calls and text messages to Krause by ABC13 were not returned.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott also sent a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards, asking the organization to look into books that may contain "pornography or other inappropriate" content.

Association representatives pointed out that it's an association of school boards and does not deal with specific school curriculums. Those are up to individual districts and their professional staff.

Meanwhile, back at Blue Willow Bookshop, Koehler said she will continue to carry books on all subject matters and political leanings, just as she has done for 25 years.

"It's why we read. We read, so we can think," she said.

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