A new report from the American Library Association shows Texas is outpacing other states in challenging explicit books.
The report, entitled “Mapping Challenges to the Freedom to Read,” states that Texans challenged 2,349 books in 2022—more than any other state in the nation.
Florida came in second, with citizens there challenging 991 books.
Across the nation, citizens objected to 2,571 different books last year, which the ALA says is a 38 percent increase from 2021, when 1,858 books faced challenges.
Of the reported book challenges, 48 percent took place in public libraries, 41 percent in school libraries, 10 percent in schools overall, and 1 percent in college libraries and other institutions.
According to the ALA’s report, 30 percent of book challenges in 2022 came from parents, 28 percent from patrons, 17 percent from political or religious groups, 15 percent from boards or administration, 3 percent from librarians or teachers, 3 percent from elected officials, and 4 percent from other sources.
The ALA described the increase in book challenges as “evidence of a growing, well-organized, conservative political movement, the goals of which include removing books about race, history, gender identity, sexuality, and reproductive health from America’s public and school libraries that do not meet their approval.”
The library organization also claimed that concerned parents and citizens are a potential threat to librarians.
“Books are not the sole target of attacks orchestrated by conservative parent groups and right-wing media,” wrote the ALA. “Both school and public librarians are increasingly in the crosshairs of conservative groups during book challenges and subject to defamatory name-calling, online harassment, social media attacks, and doxxing, as well as direct threats to their safety, their employment, and their very liberty.”
Last month, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission cut ties with the ALA after it was revealed that the organization’s newest president is an outspoken Marxist.
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.
The new state law requires vendors to rate and label books based on sexual content. Vendors that fail to comply cannot sell books to Texas schools.
However, a federal judge said he would block the law from going into effect on September 1 after a coalition of book vendors filed a lawsuit claiming the measure is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.
Christin Bentley, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and leader of the Stop Sexualizing Kids initiative, condemned the ruling.
“Today’s injunction was not unexpected. Liberal activists cherry-picked a friendly court to temporarily block HB900,” said Bentley. “We anticipate a quick appeal from the Acting Attorney General of Texas. In the meantime, Texas school officials have always had the legal authority and moral imperative to remove explicit materials from their libraries.”