FRISCO, Texas — More schools across the state are pulling books from their libraries. Recently, state Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, formally challenged 28 books at Frisco ISD.
“We’re not talking about innuendo or thought-provoking literature. We’re not talking about a sex education class where you’re promoting safe sex or anything like that,” Patterson said. “We’re talking about raunchy, explicit. We’re talking about every possible detail of sexual encounter. We’re talking about graphic, close-up illustrations of various forms of sex. And we know that pornography is harmful to the brain of young people.”
Frisco ISD has removed 10 books, per its website. Only one of those is from Rep. Patterson’s list. He is not pleased with the progress Frisco ISD is making with his concerns.
Daniel Stockton, Frisco ISD’s general counsel, said the district is working on it and never wanted obscene content in its libraries.
“We are committed to finding the obscene books that are in our libraries, removing them, making sure we don’t purchase obscene books in the future,” said Stockton.
The district recently implemented an expedited review process. It welcomes formal challenges from parents and others like Rep. Patterson, so it can be alerted to titles that need to be reviewed. Titles are now looked over twice. The district hired four staff members to help librarians review books and decide which ones to purchase in the future. Still, it’ll probably take the entire school year to review the district’s library collection. It has more than a million titles across 75 campuses.
“I know that people wish we could get through a million titles faster than a year. I know that people wish we could be the ones finding these books instead of other people. But we have a million titles,” Stockton said. “That’s not an easy task. It’s not a small task. It’s not a wave-of-the-magic-wand to do that. It’s hard work, and it’s something we’re committed to and that we’re doing. But it’s going to take some time.”
Rep. Patterson said if parents want their kids to have access to certain sexually explicit books, they should just buy them. Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said generally banning books can have a “devastating effect” on our democracy, educational system and children. He said Texas representatives who are trying to remove books are not deciding in the best interest of children, but rather their supporters.
“They’re not listening to the teachers. They’re not listening to this to the people that are the educators,” Hinojosa said. “They’re listening to a bunch of fringe, right-wing folks that have decided that they’re going to impose their own literary values, their own moral values, upon the rest of the world. This is very bad.”
Still, Rep. Patterson plans to introduce legislation about this when the next session begins in January. He wants to make sure “pornographic” books aren’t in Texas schools.
“This has nothing to do with who the author is, who the characters are, or anything like that,” Rep. Patterson said. “We’re only targeting sexually explicit material, obscene material, that in other any other form would be illegal to hand to a child.”