UPDATED 5/17 with comments from Fort Worth ISD. 

Months after the Fort Worth Independent School District closed down its libraries to review books, the district is now returning multiple books that were flagged by citizens. 

Following months of parental outrage over sexually explicit materials in student libraries, the Texas Legislature passed ​​House Bill 900 by State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco). HB 900 prohibits school libraries from housing materials that are sexually explicit, vulgar, or educationally unsuitable. It also sets up state standards for keeping inappropriate sexual content out of all school libraries and classrooms.

However, after a lengthy legal battle, a federal court blocked Texas from enforcing the vendor rating requirement while the state and plaintiffs continue to litigate the merits of the case.

In July, Tarrant County Citizens Defending Freedom found 76 different books to be sexually explicit and violent. More than 500 copies of the books were available in Fort Worth ISD libraries. In response, TCCDF emailed Fort Worth ISD officials who closed the libraries for review. 

Before the 2023-2024 school year, Fort Worth ISD closed its libraries to ensure all materials contained within were suitable for student consumption. After district officials reviewed books for sexually explicit and violent material, the district removed 118 books for further review to ensure they were “developmentally appropriate.” 

Now, of those 118 books removed from library shelves, 90 of them will be returned, including known sexually explicit books such as “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson. 

A Fort Worth resident, Mike Cee, was removed from a FWISD school board meeting last year while attempting to read aloud a review of “Flamer.”

As Cee began to read, he had barely made it through the first sentence before school board president Dr. Camille Rodriguez called for security to remove him from the room. Ultimately, Cee was ejected from the building by law enforcement.

Other books being returned include: “Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard” by Alex Bertie, “Wait What? A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up” by Heather Corinna, and “The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Heath” by Jo Langford. 

Brady Gray, president of Texas Family Project, told Texas Scorecard, “The issue of pornographic material in our school libraries has exposed a myriad of problems in Texas.”

“The passage of HB 900 only highlighted many of them. It showed us that activist judges can, and will warp the words of the Constitution to overturn common-sense legislation,” he continued. “It further exposed once well-meaning organizations as extremist camps hell-bent on the destruction of moral values. But most of all, it showed us that many school districts across the state have been commandeered by radicals who do not care what parents want for their children and will ignore public outcry in turn for evil and destructive materials to be distributed and taught to students.” 

“This must be the catalyst for parents to reclaim control over their local schools. Good people must rise up and demand that their local districts do better, and if they refuse those people must recruit and run to replace the boards. If we are to have real reform in our schools (and state), God-fearing people must take a stand and be willing to commit their time and treasure to the cause,” Gray added. 

A Fort Worth ISD spokesperson told Texas Scorecard, “This process was completed by a group of master’s level certified librarians who used several tools they also use in the collection development process to access reading levels, audience levels, and professional reviews, along with their knowledge of materials selection from their training and experience as librarians, to help them determine which books were appropriate for which level. Books are currently being returned to school sites in accordance with the recommendations of the review group. We are also in the process of updating our collection development policies to align with new state collection development standards, and will then evaluate our campus collections to ensure that we are meeting policy and state requirements.”

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.