While parents across Texas fight to remove explicit materials from their children’s classrooms, school districts in both Dallas ISD and Austin ISD continue providing these books to students—and paying for them with taxpayer dollars.

According to documents obtained by the Texas Freedom Coalition through open records requests, dozens of offensive and sexually explicit books are available to students attending middle and high schools across Dallas and Austin.

Records from Dallas ISD show that four schools purchased copies of “Red, White, and Royal Blue” as recently as April 2022. The book centers around what happens when “America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales.” Additionally, middle-schoolers and high-schoolers in seven Austin ISD districts have access to the book.

Over the past few years, schools across both districts also purchased copies of “Gender Queer” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which feature scenes of sexually explicit content.

Although the parent-driven movement to rid schools of explicit materials only recently gained momentum, records from Dallas ISD show Wilmer Hutchins High School purchased “Triangles” by Ellen Hopkins in 2011.

Hopkins’ book features one woman who “loses herself in the world of extramarital sex” and another with “a gay, rebellious teenage son.” Recently, Prosper ISD removed several of Hopkins’ books after librarians determined they were “vulgar or explicit.”

Dallas ISD also provides students with copies of “A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns,” which includes a character who says, ““I identify as non-binary, this means I don’t really identify as male or female. Confusing I know! We live in a weird wondrous wild world!”

In addition to spending taxpayer dollars on explicit books, Austin ISD paid more than $4,000 in March to send seven employees to the SXSW EDU conference, where teachers attended talks on the “ABCs of Equity: Assumptions, Bias, & Consciousness” and “Advancing Climate Action in Schools.”

Austin ISD also sparked controversy when the district held a district-wide “Pride Out” celebration. The week-long event included lesson plans on “Coming Out and Pronouns Days” and pride parades for elementary school students.

While Austin and Dallas ISD promote sexually explicit books and harmful ideologies, students in both districts are struggling to read and complete math problems at grade level. According to the TEA’s official school ratings, only 37 percent of students attending Dallas ISD read at grade level, while 47 percent of students at Austin ISD meet their grade level in reading.

In both districts, students’ math skills are similarly low. Ratings for Dallas ISD show 32 percent of students can complete math problems meant for their grade level, while 34 percent of Austin ISD’s students meet their grade level in math.

Dallas ISD, Austin ISD, and other districts across the state will have to decide if sacrificing students’ literacy and math skills for subversive ideologies is a worthy exchange.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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