In January 2022, Granbury Independent School District, in Granbury, Texas, pulled 130 books off its libraries’ shelves. This followed an amendment to the District’s regulations to allow certain books to be removed from use without following the district’s book challenge regulations. Book challenges are often highly contentious and emotional, and the District’s existing regulations were well crafted to ensure that all parties feel that they have been heard and respected, and also to ensure that decisions are made based on objective criteria which focus on the needs of students. Removing books before a review is completed denies students access to books based on the opinions of complainants, rather than on any educational or literary basis.
The books appear to have been removed in response to Texas State Representative Matt Krause’s broad effort to weed out books he disagrees with from the state’s libraries. Media reports suggest that 73% of the books removed feature LGBTQ characters or themes (via Texas Tribune and ProPublica).
Granbury’s book review policy is eviscerated by exempting from review books deemed to be vulgar or educationally unsuitable. It substitutes a single administrator applying his or her opinion for the deliberations of a committee that represents all members of the school community. Administrators are often inclined to dislike books that are causing controversy and are therefore more likely to call for their removal than a committee, which weighs their literary, artistic and political value for students.
Similarly, by exempting books that an administrator deems “vulgar,” the Board has in practice annulled the requirement that books be judged as a whole and not on the basis of isolated passages.
Despite any assurances from officials that this action is not censorship, it most certainly is. Removing books during a review process has the same effect on current students as any type of book ban: Granbury students cannot unable to access 130 books from their school libraries.
NCAC’s letter to the school district is below. Click here for a full screen view: