Speed Reads

Fighting the war on books

Texas school district under investigation for ordering the removal of LGBTQ books from libraries

The civil rights enforcement arm of the U.S. Education Department is investigating the superintendent of a North Texas school district after he was caught ordering librarians to get rid of LGBTQ-themed books on a secret recording, NBC News reports. Experts say it is the first investigation explicitly tied to the growing movement to ban books that discuss sexuality and gender identity from school libraries.

On Dec. 6, the DOE Office for Civil Rights notified Granbury Independent School District officials that it had launched the investigation in response to a July complaint by the ACLU. The complaint alleged the district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans schools from discriminating against students based on sex, gender, and sexual orientation. The complaint was based on a collaborative investigation that NBC News, ProPublica, and The Texas Tribune published in March. The reports unearthed a recording of Granbury ISD superintendent Jeremy Glenn telling librarians to remove books that discussed sexual orientation and transgender people.

"I acknowledge that there are men that think they're women and there are women that think they're men," Glenn can be heard telling librarians in the recording. "I don't have any issues with what people want to believe, but there's no place for it in our libraries."

In the days that followed the meeting, the district pulled 130 books from the school libraries, most of which featured LGBTQ characters or themes.

The ACLU argues that the school district has created an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ students. "These comments, combined with the book removals, really send a message to LGBTQ students in the districts that: 'You don't belong here. Your existence is shameful. It should be censored,'" said ACLU attorney Chloe Kempf.