As expected, the Bible is back on school library shelves in Keller Independent School District, following a temporary removal required under newly adopted book review policies—disproving misleading media reports that falsely claimed the district had “banned the Bible.”
But sexually explicit books will not be returning to school libraries, says Keller school board President Charles Randklev.
The Bible was among a list of books, along with a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary and multiple sexually explicit titles, that had been previously challenged by parents and were getting a second look to make sure they complied with the district’s new policies.
“Some of those books that are on that list of 41 is kind of the primer, or the reason for why we got here, right? So, some of those books are pornographic. Some of those books are sexually explicit. Some of those books have led to, basically, the new policy that the board adopted in August,” Randklev said on Inside Texas Politics earlier this week.
“I suspect that under these new guidelines, which put students first, which protect students from sexually explicit activity, that some of those books will not make their way back into the school libraries,” he said.
Randklev added that coverage of the issue was “disingenuous from the start,” and the media continued to perpetuate false claims even after district officials went out of their way to make it “abundantly clear” the district was not “banning the Bible.”
“It was ridiculous. We did not ban the Bible,” Keller ISD mom Kathy May told Allen West on his Steadfast & Loyal podcast this week.
“Every parent has the opportunity to challenge any book that they want,” explained May, who has been actively involved in the district’s book review process since discovering the sexually explicit graphic novel “Gender Queer” in Keller ISD libraries last year.
“We were challenging books at the very beginning with a lot of explicit content, and some leftist came in and challenged the Bible.”
“Those books are back on the shelf because they went through the new policy,” she added.
May said the board is under attack “because the left has owned education for so long.”
While Randklev and three recently elected conservative school board members openly supported revising policies for evaluating library books and handling book challenges, the new policies were drafted in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan agreed to with the Texas Education Agency, in response to a complaint against the prior policies, and were approved unanimously by the board.
Randklev said he believes the false claims were intentionally spread to undermine the district’s new policies.
“The reporting has been terrible,” he said on The Mark Davis Show after the misleading news stories multiplied. “We have folks within our communities that I would say purposely lied to media in order to turn this into a giant circus to undermine the commonsense policies we put into place to protect kids from pornography.”
Some Democrat activists also tried to falsely suggest conservatives were targeting “The Diary of Anne Frank”—a book never challenged or removed from any Keller school libraries. Others continued to say “Republican politicians” supported “trying to ban the Bible” well after the district refuted the false claims.
All books that are challenged going forward will be reviewed under the new policies, which include Content Guidelines for determining age-appropriate boundaries.
They also clarify that guidance from outside organizations such as the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association do not supersede the district’s policies or any controlling law, rule, or regulation.
Challenge committees will include community and staff members, and meetings will be open to the public and video and audio recorded.
May warned a lot of the “YA” or young adult books marketed to teens can be pretty graphic.
“To say we have kids that benefit from content that’s cast through the lens of pornography is unconscionable,” Randklev said. “We’re going to start having conversations around ‘Is this suitable and appropriate for kids?’”
“What has been lost,” he added, “is that this discussion is about children, students, and education, not personal political beliefs.”