By Iliana Flores-DuMond
Libraries and magic are practically synonymous. Libraries, like no place else, serve as places of transformation, discovery, and empowerment. Children around the world walk through libraries at a young age and are presented with choices. Books present the opportunity to decide for oneself who they want to be, and the people they most identify with, an immeasurably valuable experience for young people. Libraries are a place of learning for thousands of children and adults alike and are a space in which children get to exercise agency and practice critical thinking.
However, libraries and the books housed therein are under attack. Between 2021 and 2022 over 1,500 books were banned across the United States. Texas is leading the nation in the number of banned books with just over 800 active bans across 22 districts. However, the Texas legislature is not satisfied with the current bans and is now seeking to take action that would cause even more books to be pulled from the shelves in the upcoming years. Bills like HB 900 and SB 13 aim to institute some kind of ban, which disproportionately harm students of color and students in the LGBTQ+ community.
HB900 would allow third-party vendors to decide what books are appropriate for Texas students, instead of school librarians, families, and students, and give the TEA the ability to ban books with no public accountability. SB13 would create surveillance of students’ library records, impose a statewide collection development policy without input from local districts, and create an unelected, untrained advisory committee to recommend which books to ban.
Both bills target LGBTQ+, Black, and other marginalized students, and hurt vulnerable students who need resources. Moreover, they would disempower educators and parents by taking crucial educational decisions out of the hands of local actors. All of us need to do our part to protect our students and make sure that each district can best serve the specific needs of its student body.
All of us need to do our part to protect our students and make sure that each district can best serve the specific needs of its student body.
There are several ways to combat these attacks on libraries in Texas.
- Contact your representatives: We’ve created this action link to inform you about book ban bills and make contacting your representatives easier. Make your voice heard and make sure your legislators are representing your interests as a constituent.
- Know your local school board members. Ultimately, it is your local school trustees who will be enforcing any laws that are passed this session, and we have the right to decide who represents us on the school board. Many districts have elections for school board members coming up on May 6th, and you can show up to your local school board meeting to speak up for the right to read year-round!
- Check out resources like this article from Book Riot, which provides valuable information on why book bans harm students, as well as additional actions you can take to oppose book bans.
Students deserve access to books that reflect their background, culture, and individual identities. Do your part to preserve the right to read for all Texas children!
Youth Civic Education and Engagement Intern, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas