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GRANBURY, Tx. – A North Texas superintendent told a group of librarians to remove books about LGBTQ+ people, particularly Trans people, as proponents of taking queer-themed literature off library shelves argue the effort is centered around “sexually explicit” material.
Journalists from the Texas Tribune, ProPublica and NBC News obtained and confirmed a recording of a Jan. 10 meeting, where Jeremy Glenn, the superintendent of the Granbury Independent School District in North Texas, met a group of librarians in a district meeting room. Glenn needed to “speak from his heart,” noting how “very, very conservative” the community is – going as far as to say those with differing political opinions “better hide it.”
During the meeting, according to the report, Glenn explicitly targeted LGBTQ+ books before beginning one of the largest book removals in the country. Over the next two weeks, the school district pulled approximately 30 titles from library shelves for review – with some three-quarters of the materials containing LGBTQ characters or themes, according to a ProPublica and Tribune analysis.
At one point, Glenn was asked if titles on racism were acceptable. He responded by saying books on different cultures “are great,” the Tribune, ProPublica and NBC News reported.
“Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this,” Glenn said. “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”
In November of last year, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency to investigate “the availability of pornography” in the state’s public schools system and determine if criminal activity occurred. That order came two days after he had tasked state education officials to develop statewide standards preventing “pornography” and “other obscene content in Texas public schools.”
Abbott aimed directly at LGBTQ-themed books in his directives, including “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado – both of which won awards, critical acclaim and are recommended to high school-aged teenagers.
According to the report, Glenn made similar arguments during the closed-door meeting, saying: “I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” he said.
But Glenn went a step further, adding that he was concerned with LGBTQ-themed books, even if they do not describe sex.
“And I’m going to take it a step further with you,” he said. “There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women. And there are women that think they’re men. And again, I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”
Glenn’s comments – according to legal experts that spoke with the Tribune, ProPublica and NBC News – raise constitutional concerns and could be grounds for a complaint to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
“This audio is very much evidence of anti-LGBTQ and particularly anti-trans discrimination,” Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told the outlets, “It is very much saying the quiet part out loud in a way that provides very significant evidence that book removals in the district are occurring because of anti-LGBTQ bias.”
Glenn told the reporters that the district was committed to supporting students of all backgrounds, adding that “the values of our community will always be reflected in our schools.”
“In Granbury and across Texas we are seeing parents push back and demand elected officials put safeguards in place to protect their children from materials that serve no academic purpose, but rather push a political narrative,” he said in the statement. “As a result, classrooms and libraries have turned schools into battle grounds for partisan politics.”To read the full report, visit the Texas Tribune, ProPublica or NBC News.
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