Following reports of New Braunfels public libraries keeping sexually explicit books in the children’s section, concerned parents made their voices heard during a city council meeting. 

Last week, Texas Scorecard reported that New Braunfels public libraries had dozens of sexually explicit books in their libraries. The books were full of graphic images featuring naked “transgender” individuals, masturbation, and sexual acts. 

Joeylynn Mesaros, a mother from New Braunfels, shared images from the books to Texas Scorecard and was one of many concerned parents and citizens who stood before the council to share her concerns. 

“Obscenity is not protected free speech and making obscene or harmful material available to minors is a crime under both federal and state laws. It’s clear you don’t understand the Constitution and have misinterpreted what freedom is,” said Mesaros. “Porn is not protected by the First Amendment. Allowing kids to access information that harms them is not a basic right. In fact it’s illegal in every other sphere.”

“The very same content handed to a child outside of library walls would be a felony for the person handing it to them, and rightfully so,” she added.  

During Mesaros’ comments, she showed the councilmembers pictures from the books in question, which included sexually explicit images. In a recording from Kendall Starr, a parent who attended the meeting, Councilmember Mary Ann Labowski was seen covering her screen to avoid viewing the graphic images. 

In another recording by Starr, Councilmember April Ryan could be seen rolling her eyes as one citizen addressed the council. 

Before the council opened public comments, the mayor asserted that he would dedicate 30 minutes to each side for public comments, with the sides being for and against the sexually explicit books. By limiting it thus, multiple parents and citizens were prevented from voicing their concerns to the council and were forced to remain silent.

One mother, Amanda, said she was only given 20 seconds to address the council and told Texas Scorecard that allowing minors to have access to this type of material is dangerous.

We are positioning our children to be exposed to pedophiles, or to potentially–and this sounds horrible—grow up and become a pedophile themselves.

Another New Braunfels mom, Melissa Tollinche, was also unable to speak due to the time limit and was restricted from going into the main area because staff told her they were at “max capacity.” 

Tollinche told Texas Scorecard the Sheriff needs to pay attention to the crimes being committed by allowing pornography to remain in the children’s section. She says the “law must be enforced, regardless of who are the ones committing the crimes.” 

Taylor Christian, a mother of three, also contacted Texas Scorecard to share her concerns not addressed in the meeting. Christian said that after hearing the comments from the meeting, she is “extremely concerned and fearful for the future of our city.” 

“I am a firm believer in free speech and access to information, especially educational information, but this content is not educational but graphic with the intent to groom and desensitize children to sexual acts. I believe the request to have the books simply moved to the adult section is reasonable and appropriate,” explained Christian. “If you (any parent who was fighting in favor of those books) would like your child to have access to such material check it out yourself and discuss it in the privacy of your own home. But for it to be out and available for any child of any age to come across it is not acceptable.” 

Texas Scorecard also reported on other books featuring critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion teachings. Christelle Chalmers, an immigrant from Haiti, said she is concerned about the books “tearing down the beauty of America.”

“America is the best country in the world. I left everything behind in a politically corrupt country, to come here and live in America, which has given me the best of the best,” explained Chalmers. “I feel like just because two or three, four, maybe 1,000, even a million people messed up—that’s not enough for you to be writing a book to try to tear down the beauty of America.”

On the other side, multiple people spoke up for the library, saying that “freedom of information is an important tenant to our democracy” and that it is up to the parents to monitor what their children are reading. 

One woman, who said she is a pastor at a local church, supported the books, saying that “having these books available for teens to read is lifesaving.” 

While some spoke in favor of the books remaining in the library, Starr highlighted that no one in the room was asking to ban books. Instead, they’re “asking [the council] to remove them from the 18 and under section.” 

Robert Mesaros told Texas Scorecard that he talked to Councilmember Lawrence Spradley Tuesday morning. According to Mesaros, Spradely told him that to get rid of sexually explicit books from the libraries, people must continue to show up and speak out against it. 

Texas Scorecard reached out to Mayor Neal Linnartz and Councilmembers Spradley, Labowski, and Ryan but did not receive any comment before publication. 

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.