HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A bill has been filed for the upcoming Texas legislative session that would require publishers to assign ratings to books they sell to state school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.
The bill was filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, who serves northwest Harris County, and he said the idea came to him while behind the wheel.
"I was driving in my car one day, and it occurred to me that we've had a system in place for TV content for 30 years," the Republican lawmaker said. "The idea was to take the TV-rating system we have for the purpose of rating books."
Oliverson said there are books finding their way into school libraries that parents might find inappropriate, and this would be an easy way for them to identify what's safe or unsafe for kids to read.
The ratings would range from BK-G, which is considered safe for all audiences, to BK-MA, which is only suitable for students 17 and older.
If the bill is passed, it would go into effect in 2023, and ratings would start showing up on the cover of books beginning in the 2024 school year.
The Texas Education Agency would be responsible for reviewing the ratings established by publishers. Those who don't comply with calls to change a rating would be unable to sell books to schools.
PEN America, which is a national nonprofit that works toward promoting free expression in literature, said this move is "a dangerous escalation in the movement to censor public education."
Oliverson disagrees with that assessment.
"I think that's kind of absurd," he said. "This is not piling books in the corner and setting them on fire."