As parents across the country are questioning what their kids are reading in school, a North Texas mom and dad are challenging 282 books in their local school libraries that they say are too sexually explicit for underage children.
Paul and Rachel Elliott, whose daughter is an elementary-school student in McKinney Independent School District, submitted a list of books on Wednesday to McKinney Boyd High School that they believe should be removed from the curriculum.
“The books are not appropriate for any K-12 students,” they wrote. “Please adhere to the request to remove all of the 282 books from the McKinney ISD school libraries.”
The Elliotts’ challenges are part of a larger debate about the role parents play in deciding what kids read in school.
For months, parents in dozens of Texas school districts have been asking officials to review and remove sexually explicit books in public school libraries and classrooms, saying they contain obscene and graphic sexual content that is not age-appropriate for minor children.
Some districts have removed some books, but other school officials argue the materials are educational—an exemption in Texas’ obscenity statutes that shields against prosecution for providing sexually explicit content to minors or distributing material that depicts children engaged in sex acts.
According to the Elliotts’ challenges, the books on their list have “no educational merit.”
Please remove from the entire ISD. If the parents want this book, they are welcome to buy it from a retailer but it shouldn’t be provided from tax-money or available for children under the age of 18. Regardless of the physical location of which library the item is located. It is accessible to all students at all schools because of the courier service and also because with their student ID they are able to go to the location to check out the book themselves or with another person. And without parent consent or knowledge.
All 282 books on the Elliotts’ list are also on a list compiled by State Rep. Matt Krause (R–Fort Worth) as part of an inquiry he launched last October into potentially questionable books in school libraries and classrooms.
Rachel told Texas Scorecard they submitted their request to just one school because the district requires a two-page form for each challenged book to be delivered by hand, mail, or fax to each campus. But they’ve emailed copies of all 564 pages to all the other schools in the district.
They were also required to read each of the books they challenged. Rachel said it was an unpleasant task, but they did it for all of the parents in the district.
“We’re willing to do what we can do to protect our schools and our child, plus all 23,000 kids in McKinney ISD,” she said.
Anyone can see what’s in any of the district’s school libraries via MISD’s online catalog.
Late last year, the Elliotts challenged two sexually explicit books—“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “L8R, G8R”—but the district denied their request to remove the books from circulation.
Rachel said since then, the word has been spreading to local churches and on social media, resulting in more parents, pastors, and politicians speaking in support of removing obscene and inappropriate materials from schools.
Local parents plan to speak on the topic again at the next McKinney ISD school board meeting on Tuesday, February 22.
Rachel encouraged parents and community members to attend the meeting and make their voices heard.