Dec 8, 2022 - Politics

League City creates book challenge process

Illustration of books like dominoes being hit by a gavel.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

League City approved a plan where books for minors that contain "obscenity or other harmful content" in the public library can be challenged by residents.

Driving the news: City Council members voted 4-3 on Tuesday night to prohibit the city from spending tax dollars on children's books that feature certain topics.

  • The city will create a "community standards review committee" that will review any challenged books and decide if the book should be restricted from minors or removed from the library.
  • All but 10 of the 63 public comments on Tuesday night opposed the proposal, according to council member John Bowen.

Why it matters: The proposal comes at a time when there is a growing effort to censor and ban books. Most of the book controversy in the greater Houston area has primarily been in school libraries, but now the fight is spreading to public libraries.

Details: The resolution, authored by council members Justin Hicks and Andy Mann, allows books with a target audience of people under the age of 18 to be challenged if they feature topics of pedophilia and/or incest, rape and bondage.

  • Plus: Books for an intended audience below the age of 10 that discuss or depict any type of sex, nudity or sexual preference can also be challenged.

Of note: The original proposal stated that books with the topic of gender ideology and "ideologue human sexuality" could be challenged, but after opponents said it was a way to silence LGBTQ+ voices, that section was removed from the final resolution.

  • Hicks told the Houston Chronicle that books that fall under "ideologue human sexuality" could have included books that tell "a child that boys can pregnant, too … There are books that say, 'Just because you have a penis in your pants, it doesn’t mean you’re a boy.'"
  • Hicks claimed that the resolution is not a book ban and denied that the proposal was targeting books with LGBTQ+ themes, per the Chronicle.

What they're saying: For three hours, the majority of speakers voiced their concerns on what kind of books could be removed and spoke on the importance of access to books and resources.

  • "To me, censorship is censorship, whether you use the name or not. Saying something is restricted is the same as censorship," Peggy Leevi said.
  • "As a librarian, I faithfully serve families that are different from myself. It is my job to provide access to information and material, even if it differs from my beliefs … It was our jobs as parents to instill good values and morals in our child, and not rely on others, especially the government to do it for us," a submitted public comment read.
  • "If a young person has a question about anything in life, the safe and accurate place to get the information is not the internet — it's the library," Monica Edwards, a former English teacher and League City resident said, per KHOU.

Zoom out: Texas has banned more books from school libraries this past year than any other state. The targeted titles have themes of race, racism, abortion and LGBTQ+ representation, according to an analysis by PEN America.

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