A Texas mom is teaching parents how to identify sexually explicit books that need to be removed from their children’s schools, as a new law to prohibit smut in students’ libraries and classrooms is pending in court.

Christin Bentley is presenting workshops across the state explaining, “How to Audit School Libraries for Sexually Explicit, Pervasively Vulgar, and Educationally Unsuitable Materials.”

Bentley is a parent and pro-family education advocate who serves on the Texas GOP’s State Republican Executive Committee.

As chair of the SREC’s Stop Sexualizing Texas Kids legislative committee, Bentley led a successful grassroots effort supporting House Bill 900, which prohibits sexually explicit materials in Texas schools.

Bentley’s “Filthy Books” campaign opened the eyes of lawmakers in both parties to the need to clean up kids’ school libraries.

Bentley now holds in-person and online workshops statewide, teaching parents and community members how to identify unsuitable books in their local schools.

In addition to the training, Bentley prepared a toolkit and a list of about 400 titles that are likely to require removal under HB 900.

“Parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens have the opportunity to work with their public school district administrators to help identify materials that are now prohibited,” said Bentley. “Our Republican and conservative clubs across the state can provide support.”

The Texas Freedom Coalition, which Bentley founded and formerly headed, is also helping families audit their local school libraries.

“This is not about banning books, as some would like you to believe,” Texas Freedom Coalition Executive Director Rachel Hale said in a video describing the auditing process and tools. “What this is about is removing pornographic, pervasively vulgar, and sexually explicit books from the reach of minor children.”

The Texas Legislature passed HB 900 by State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) in May, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in June.

HB 900, known as The READER Act, directs the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to adopt state standards for keeping explicit content out of school libraries and classrooms by January 1, 2024. It also requires vendors to rate and label books based on sexual content by April 1, 2024. Vendors that fail to comply cannot sell books to Texas schools.

A lawsuit brought by book vendors against HB 900 put a temporary hold on the new law, which was set to take effect on September 1.

But Bentley and Hale note that schools don’t have to wait for The READER Act to take effect, nor do parents.

“Texas school officials have always had the legal authority and moral imperative to remove explicit materials from their libraries,” said Bentley. “We will hold school boards accountable to doing the right thing by Texas children.”

Toolkit resources can be found here.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.