Texas governor orders criminal investigation into “pornography” in school books

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Conservative rage over what is taught in public schools peaked in Texas on Wednesday as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced a criminal investigation into what he called “pornography” in school libraries, his third directive on the matter this month.

“The fact that pornographic material that has no educational purpose has been made available to students in public schools in Texas is a clear violation of the law,” Abbott written in a Wednesday letter, ordering the Texas Education Agency to “investigate any criminal activity in our public schools involving the availability of pornographic material” to minors and to refer cases for prosecution.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that no Texas child is exposed to pornography or obscene content while in a Texas public school,” he wrote.

Abbott published two letters earlier this month denouncing the availability of “pornography” in school libraries. On Tuesday, he wrote a letter directing the state education agency, library and board of directors to create statewide standards “to ensure that no children are exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content in a public school in the United States. Texas”. Earlier this month, Abbott wrote to Texas Assn. of School Boards, calling for “protecting children from pornography and other inappropriate content.”

“The association has abdicated its responsibility to address the problem,” Abbott wrote Wednesday.

Among the books cited as possibly pornographic are “Lawn Boy”, which refers to oral sex between boys, and the other, “Losing the Girl”, which features LGBTQ characters.

Last summer, Texas state lawmakers banned public schools from teaching critical race theory, a decades-old academic theory that is not taught in any public school. In addition to a call to remove books deemed pornographic, conservatives in Texas have also moved to ban books dealing with race and gender. Since then, school board meetings have heated up across the country, including the politically mixed suburbs of Texas’s larger cities, as conservative parents attempt to challenge and remove books they believe to be a critical or obscene racial theory.

Opponents of the book’s challenges say their real intent is to eliminate stories of and about minorities and those who are LGBTQ. Richard Price, professor of political science at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, e author of the blog Adventures In Censorship, said the attacks amounted to a “war on books”. As some schools have succumbed to such challenges, Price said, the appetite has only grown for more.

“The pacification of the censors only encourages more censorship,” Price he blogged Wednesday.

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