ACLU asks Granbury ISD to apologize for deleting books

Even though the majority of the books have been put back on the shelves, the ACLU believes the district needs to both apologize and affirm its commitment to inclusivity.

GRANBURY, Texas — The American Civil Liberties Union, along with nearly a dozen other civil rights groups, sent an emailed letter Monday to the Granbury Independent School District condemning the district’s removal of nearly of 130 library books from the shelves to be examined.

The district announced the move in January, following a school board vote.

“Schools, and especially school libraries, should be a place where students have access to a wide range of ideas,” said ACLU attorney Kate Huddleston. “The First Amendment requires it.”

Jeff Meador, district communications director, confirmed that the district is creating a library review committee made up of parents, district stakeholders and educators to review the books. In January, he said most of the books would likely be put back on the shelves.

He said the district is reviewing them pursuant to a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott to investigate library books for “pornographic content,” after state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, released a list of about 850 “worrying” books.

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Krause’s list and the condensed list studied by Granbury ISD have drawn criticism and sparked heated debate at school board meetings, as they include a number of books on civil rights, racism, LBTQ+ and the ‘sex education.

“When we see these massive book bans, they hurt students by directly suppressing free speech and sending the message that marginalized students don’t belong in the community,” Huddleston said.

On Friday, Granbury ISD issued a notice to parents and the community informing them of the process. It says 131 books were under review at the start of the process and 103 of those books have been put back on the shelves.

See the list of books under review at Granbury ISD.

The statement states: “At its first meeting, the committee considered Governor Abbott’s letters to the Texas Education Agency regarding the banning of pornography from school libraries. overtly sexual content.

A majority of the committee agreed that more than 100 books on the review list did not include material that met this definition.

Two of the books have been confirmed lost and are not in libraries, according to the district press release.

A book will be removed for sexually explicit content.

The district says 25 books are still under review.

Here is the list of books that have been removed from Granbury ISD.

In January, the district confirmed that five titles, all by the same author, had been removed after an initial review due to overtly sexual content.

Even though the majority of the books have been put back on the shelves, the ACLU believes the district needs to both apologize and affirm its commitment to inclusivity.

“This affirmation, after creating a cloud, after pulling books on LGBTQ and racial inclusion off the shelves, is so important,” Huddleston said. “It is extremely important that students understand that the school district considers them an integral part of the community, that they belong fully, and that their stories and identities are fully reflected on the pages of the school library.”

Granbury ISD declined two requests for interviews with members of the administration or school board to directly address this issue and this process. Meador did not respond to questions about whether or not the district has a response to the ACLU’s request for an apology.

Huddleston said the ACLU has not yet received a response.

The district is one of many in the state caught in the crossfire of a battle over what education should look like and who should make the decision, when it comes to things like curricula and books for library. Granbury ISD is the first district to which the ACLU has sent a letter.

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The district’s press release says that after the committee completes its review in March, the district will release a list of books to be removed and hold a public viewing for parents and the public.

Colin L. Johnson