The Bible, Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” and a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of Young Girl” are among 41 books that were pulled from the shelves yesterday by officials with the Keller Independent School District (Keller ISD) based in Keller, Texas. Keller ISD has been at the center of a heated statewide controversy over which books should and should not be allowed in public schools.
“Attached is a list of all books that were challenged last year,” said district curriculum director Jennifer Price in an email sent Tuesday to school principals, according to The Texas Tribune. The email and book list were also posted to Twitter by a parent of four students in the district. “By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms. Please collect these books and store them in a location. (book room, office, etc.).”
The email continues, “More information will be sent regarding action for these books…Once this has been completed, please email me a confirmation. We need to ensure this action is taken by the end of today.” Wednesday, Aug. 17, was the first day of classes in the district.
Keller ISD Pulls Previously Challenged Books for Another Review
As ChurchLeaders reported, on May 1 Gateway Church’s senior pastor, Robert Morris, encouraged his congregation to vote for 13 people running for office in upcoming local elections. Morris, whose church is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, named pornographic content in public schools as a primary concern and pointed out Keller ISD as a “very important school district.”
In the fall of 2021, parents confronted Keller ISD over books they deemed to be pornographic, including a graphic novel titled “Gender Queer,” which contains explicit illustrations of oral sex. This book has caused controversy in other parts of the country as well.
In October 2021, state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, sent a list of 850 books to schools across the Texas, inquiring whether they had any of the books on the list (including “Gender Queer”) on their shelves. On Nov. 1, 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abott issued a letter directing the Texas Association of School Boards to investigate allegations of pornographic content in Texas school systems and to remove any such content it finds.
That same month, over 1,500 people signed a petition organized by Texas mothers calling for 90 books to be removed from the libraries of Keller ISD. In December 2021, The Texas Tribune reported that the Texas Education Agency was investigating whether or not Keller ISD libraries are carrying pornographic material.
Keller ISD appointed a committee to review all books that parents challenged. A full list of these books and the committee’s decisions on each can be found here. The committee had decided to pull “Gender Queer” from circulation and to keep the Bible and the Anne Frank adaptation in circulation.
Now, all of those books are being reviewed again. In response to a request for comment, Keller ISD sent the following statement:
Keller ISD has received questions about an email sent Tuesday to principals and librarians. Keller ISD’s Board of Trustees approved policies EFA (Local) and EFB (Local) at its August 8, 2022, Special Meeting. These policies relate to the acquisition and review of instructional materials and library books. Right now, Keller ISD’s administration is asking our campus staff and librarians to review books that were challenged last year to determine if they meet the requirements of the new policy. All of the books included in Tuesday’s email have been included on Keller ISD’s Book Challenge list over the past year. Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy.