Oh So Now It's A CRIME To Be A Filthy Bigot? Still No, But Ed Dept Investigating Anti-Gay Book Bans!
Book Guardian! She's a librarian superhero who fights censorship. Generated using Stable Diffusion AI.

Some good news on the generally depressing school censorship front: ProPublica and NBC News report that the federal Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is investigating a Texas school district's outrageous campaign of censorship against LGBTQ-themed books in school libraries. The federal investigation of the Granbury Independent School District was sparked by a complaint from the ACLU of Texas, which followed up on reporting earlier this year by those meddlesome kids at ProPublica,NBC News, and the Texas Tribune.

We'll be right back; we need to write up a pitch for an animated TV series about heroic reporters who travel the country in a van and expose school censorship, accompanied by a lovable but dopey talking manatee. Wait, make that a lemur.

The investigation appears to be "the first such investigation explicitly tied to the nationwide movement to ban school library books dealing with sexuality and gender," ProPublica and NBC News say, although the story notes that five other investigations by the Office for Civil Rights have been opened into alleged discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual identity in another Texas school district, Carroll Independent Schools in Southlake.

You'll want to make sure you don't have anything terribly breakable nearby before we go into the incidents that resulted in the ACLU complaint, 'kay? Computers and phones are expensive.

ProPublica and the other outlets jointly reported in March on Granbury School Superintendent Jeremy Glenn after a recording was leaked of a January 2022 meeting in which Glenn told school librarians to remove books about sexual orientation and transgender folks. The news organizations verified the authenticity of the recording.

“I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women and there are women that think they’re men,” Glenn told librarians [...] I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”

Later in the meeting, Glenn clarified that he was specifically focused on removing books geared toward queer students: “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books,” he said, according to the recording.

Later, the district went to work removing dozens of books from the school libraries. The ACLU of Texas argued in its complaint that the district's actions created a "pervasively hostile” environment for LGBTQ students. We have little doubt that Glenn and others running the district figured there couldn't be any such students because the city is a decent place where parents simply wouldn't let their kids turn out that way.

Chloe Kempf, an ACLU attorney, said the Education Department’s decision to open the investigation into Granbury ISD signals that the agency is concerned about what she described as “a wave” of anti-LGBTQ policies and book removals nationally.

“In this case it was made very clear, because the superintendent kind of said the quiet part out loud,” Kempf said in an interview. “It’s pretty clear that that kind of motivation is animating a lot of these policies nationwide.”

A spokesperson for the Education Department confirmed it is investigating a possible violation of Title IX, that dear old 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Beyond that, the spox wouldn't comment on an active investigation.

No comment either from Glenn or the district, although the article notes that

In an earlier statement following the news outlets’ reporting in March, the district said it was committed to supporting students of all backgrounds. And the district said that its primary focus is educating students but that “the values of our community will always be reflected in our schools.”

Why oh why don't troublemaking outside agitators understand how things are done here? Everything's fine as long as you don't make waves and insist weirdos have "rights."

Also too, Granbury last year elected two new school board members who campaigned on eliminating any hint of LGBTQ-friendliness in curricula or filthy gay porn books in the library. The joint investigation by the three hero journalism outfits turned up text messages from Glenn in which he contacted

district administrators about several books that an unnamed school board member had found in the district’s online catalog. [...]

The messages from the board member to Glenn included screenshots of eight titles, all of which dealt with LGBTQ topics, with the words “gay,” “trans” and “gender” highlighted in some of the book descriptions.

As far as we can tell, none of the books were about Olympic sprinter Tyson Homosexual.

Also during that January meeting, Glenn advised the assembled school librarians, a group commonly given to communist tendencies like believing in the freedom to read, that they'd better keep their communist preversions to themselves because

the new school board was “very, very conservative” and that any employee who holds different political views had “better hide it,” according to the recording of his comments. In the days that followed, the district embarked on one of the largest mass book removals in the state, pulling 130 titles, most of which featured LGBTQ characters or themes.

In other words, straighten up and fly right, even if you're not in a plane. Did things get stupider? Are we talking about Texas trans panic? Of course things got stupider! A committee of volunteers from the community reviewed the titles that had been pulled and voted to return nearly all of them to the shelves, ultimately removing only three titles. (The district didn't even own a copy of Gender Queer to ban!) After that,

two disgruntled members of the committee filed a police report in May accusing district employees of providing “pornography” to children, triggering a monthslong criminal investigation by Hood County Constable Chad Jordan, which remained open as of August. Jordan didn’t respond to messages requesting an update on the investigation.

One of the committee members who made the criminal complaint, Karen Lowery, won a seat on the school board in the November election, so the awfulness is certain to continue. At her first meeting, she demanded the removal of all "obscene" books from district schools, because damn those freaks on the committee who didn't ban them earlier. Glenn asked for a list of titles, because he wanted to help.

We'll keep watching for updates, especially if the feds require Granbury school leaders to not be a bunch of fucking bigots and that triggers a secession crisis or armed standoff. Or even worse, treating LGBTQ kids with respect.

[ProPublica and NBC News / ProPublica, NBC News, Texas Tribune joint report / Image created by Stable Diffusion AI]

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Please keep your Wonkette reminding you not to be fucking bigots, oh wait, that's not you, carry on!

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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