The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has seemingly managed to duck the school librarian shortage affecting public school systems across North Texas and the rest of the state.
In a statement to The Dallas Express, a DISD spokesperson confirmed that the district had either a designated librarian or a library liaison staffed at all 221 of its campus libraries.
“These staff members support library operations which give all students access to needed instructional resources,” the spokesperson claimed.
DISD’s staffing situation stands out against a backdrop of reported librarian shortages in North Texas that are allegedly driven in part by community tensions over what library materials are appropriate for students to have access to.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, district parents and taxpayers have rebuked DISD’s Board of Trustees for allowing sexually explicit content and books some perceive as obscene to be made available to district students.
“I personally have been at almost every DISD meeting for a year and a half pleading with the trustees to take action,” Tami Brown Rodriguez told The Dallas Express back in February.
Since then, however, it appears at least one of the books that concerned community members have been lobbying against has been removed from DISD library shelves — Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen.
Rodriguez had specifically targeted the book at school board meetings last year, reading a passage that reportedly described how a young boy learned to seduce an adult into having anal sex.
“If it had been a movie, it would be rated X. It’s offensive and completely inappropriate for our children,” Rodriguez previously told The Dallas Express.
Jack of Hearts (and other parts) no longer appears on DISD’s online library catalogue. It is currently unclear when the book was removed from the district’s offerings.
Still, Rosen has defended his work and claimed that Jack of Hearts (and other parts) is not obscene or pornographic:
“The book itself contains no sex scenes. There’s plenty of discussion of sex, but any moments when Jack actually has sex are fade to black moments, which is significantly less sex than many straight young adult books which notably haven’t been challenged. And every time a scene in the book opens after sex, there is mention of condoms.”
“Sex education, even in the most liberal schools in the country, seldom touches on queer sex, which means most queer teens go into their first sexual experiences with only pornography as a guide, which is not what it’s made for, and not ideal.”
The Dallas Express asked DISD whether it was addressing the concerns expressed by community members like Rodriguez.
“District librarians are trained and follow EF Local Board Policy for Objective and Selection Criteria when creating book orders, including adhering to age-appropriateness for students’ grades, age, and maturity level. All book orders created by campus librarian staff are reviewed and approved by district-level librarians. The district follows a formal process outlined in policy for parents to challenge books on campus,” a DISD spokesperson replied.
No mention was made of any specific actions taken by the district with regard to the titles Rodriguez and others were trying to bring to the attention of the school board.
Other books previously cited as inappropriate by Rodriguez — like Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and Beloved by Toni Morrison — are still available to DISD students.