A Democrat state representative is raising eyebrows for agreeing with a Republican activist trying to get lawmakers to remove sexually explicit books from public school libraries.
In response to a series of Twitter posts highlighting lewd portions of Maia Kobabe’s book “Gender Queer,” which has been found in public school libraries across Texas, State Rep. Shawn Thierry (D–Houston) strongly condemned the content, suggesting that it was intended to “encourage kids to try extreme sex acts” and minimizes the risks associated with underage sex and pornography. She challenged her colleagues to read the book aloud in the Texas House, insinuating it is inappropriate for public consumption.
Disgraceful! The content is clearly intended to encourage kids to try extreme sex acts, with illustrations making light of the harms associated with underage sex & porn. As a parent & Member of the #txlege, I challenge any of my colleagues to read this book aloud on the back mic.
— State Representative Shawn Thierry (@RepThierry146) March 27, 2023
Christin Bentley, the author of the initial series of posts, is a member of the governing board for the Republican Party of Texas and the founder of a campaign that seeks to inform Texas lawmakers about sexually explicit books in public school libraries.
Bentley started her “Filthy Books” campaign in February, emailing daily summaries of explicit books to all 150 House members and 31 senators. She also posts these #FilthyBooks summaries on Twitter.
To that end, she is backing State Rep. Jared Patterson’s (R–Frisco) House Bill 900 as a tool to remove explicit books from public school libraries. This measure would require school book vendors to rate books with sexual content as either “sexually explicit” (which would not be allowed in schools) or “sexually relevant” (which would require parental consent for students to access).
For the most part, Democrats have either dismissed these efforts as an overreaction to a problem that doesn’t exist or accused Republicans of trying to ban books and squelch free speech. Consequently, Thierry’s reaction to Bentley’s post elicited some outrage from liberal activists.
As a member of the #txlege you should know better than to take anything a Republican says at face value.
This is not a book in school libraries, they’re posting this content to get people on board with banning civil rights books.
— Michelle (@LivingBlueTX) March 27, 2023
Just because someone SAID it was found doesn't make it true. I call BS. Sorry. I say this is just a way for y'all to push thru book banning.
— Phoenix (@THubertUSNVET) March 27, 2023
Do you know what age children first watch porn? A majority have watched porn by 12. That you’re going after library books that provide context to whatever they might find rather than pushing to prepare kids and teach them about sex and boundaries is telling.
— SuspendedTiger (@TigerSuspended) March 27, 2023
Thierry countered these arguments by stating the book in question was found in Houston ISD, Keller ISD, and Canutillo ISD. She also said “the ‘whataboutism’ is not persuasive” and dismissed as “off topic” the attempt to conflate efforts to remove explicit books from school libraries with the claim that Republicans want to ban books about race and civil rights. Thierry added that her mother—who “had milkshakes poured on her head while integrating the lunch counter at Woolworths & was the 1st teacher to integrate Sharpstown Junior High”—agrees with her.
“Not here for the partisan politics on this. I’m here for children,” Thierry stated.
“These books are in ISDs in every single House District in the state of Texas. Our legislators have the proof,” Bentley added.