Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the State Board of Education (SBOE), the Texas Education Agency (TEA) last week to prevent students from accessing graphic content on campus, but Moms for Liberty would rather see him organize a special legislative session.
“We have laws on the books that allow for library books to go unchecked by anyone and for teachers to have books in their individual classroom library that leaves them unchecked,” said Mary Lowe, chair of the Tarrant County chapter of Moms for Liberty. “It’s the elected official’s responsibility to write laws that provide protection for the children and the parents. Currently, the only people who are protected are those that have a big union attached to them and that would be teachers and librarians.”
Moms for Liberty is a parental rights group founded in January that has 1,500 Fort Worth-area members on Facebook and 60,000 nationwide.
“The governor should ask Dan Patrick to bring about a law that addresses protection of parental rights when it comes to medical freedom, relative to the vaccination that has now been approved and a law regarding masking of children,” Lowe told Dallas Express. “It should be parent’s choice.”
According to media reports, Gov. Abbott sent a letter to TASB and subsequently TEA and SBOE about creating standards that would prevent books with sexual content from circulating through the public school system.
“The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that has no place in the Texas public education system,” Gov. Abbott stated in his letter. “You have an obligation to Texas parents and students to ensure that no child in Texas is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content while inside a Texas public school.”
However, Lowe is skeptical of Gov. Abbott. “I find it very interesting that in an election cycle we have elected officials passing the buck to an organization that’s a not-for-profit,” Lowe said in an interview. “They teach and educate school board members how to run these big schools. School board associations can’t write a law. So, I thought it was a very odd request.”
Gov. Abbott’s outcry comes at a time when parents, such as Sherry Clemens, are blasting Richardson ISD over a permission-slip book called, Everybody Sees the Ants, depicting a boy being gang-raped in a school locker room, according to media reports.
“It’s not because we don’t want race to ever be talked about or LGBTQ rights in the schools,” Clemens told Dallas Express. “I want them to have every single right that my kid has. What I don’t want is ideologies being presented in the classroom that goes against my religious beliefs and that’s what we’re seeing in those books.”
While Clemens sees Gov. Abbott’s letter as a great start, she has been considering relocating her family out of Richardson to Lovejoy or Princeton.
“I can name 30 families that are actively looking at leaving the district,” Clemens said in an interview. “Every day, something new unravels and it’s causing so many parents that I know to seek to go somewhere else like, private school or homeschool, because we’re seeing Richardson seeming to fail miserably at their main job, which is to educate our kids.”
Last month, Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) called for an accounting of books including titles like: All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens; What is White Privilege?; Thumbelina; and Beyond the Gender Binary.
“It’s obviously hard because anytime you talk about investigating books, people want to label you as a book burner or that you want to ban books, but that’s not his goal,” Clemens said. “His goal is to make sure books are appropriate for schools. All taxpayers need to know what their money is being spent on. If it’s being spent on putting pornographic materials in the hands of kids, that’s not okay.”
Although the new wave of sex education may aim to help, Texas Values, an advocacy group in Austin, alleges that the trend is political and an attempt to change the culture to be more accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles and to create demand for abortion services.
“Most people could argue that the reason why Planned Parenthood pushes these types of sex education curriculum is so they can have future clients,” said Mary Elizabeth Castle, senior policy advisor with Texas Values. “If Planned Parenthood could convince kids younger and younger to engage in more sexual activity, then of course they would probably have more clients for their abortion services. Other political groups, like LGBTQ groups, are pushing so that more people can see from their point of view.”
Local issues that Moms for Liberty and Clemens allege parents are concerned about in DFW area schools include the following:
Student performance at Fort Worth ISD.
“The fact that they perform in the bottom 2% of the state is extremely troubling,” Lowe said. “So, to improve academic performance and to put an emphasis on basic academics is a big issue there. The amount of money that that particular district spends per student for the result is very troubling.”
Reduce Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training for teachers.
“The focus seems to have been on the DEI department for the last few years and that’s changing the way Richardson ISD talks about equity and race,” Clemens said. “It seems that the focus is off. This week there was a Google form that came out from J.J. Pearce High School that allows students to report any type of racism or microaggressions that are happening. It’s a very leading questionnaire.”
More emphasis on core academic subjects such as English, math, and science.
“Across the board, we would like to see less emphasis on social, emotional learning, and focusing on how a child feels,” Lowe said. “We would like to see that classic curriculum return. It’s not about race. It’s such a misnomer that people use critical race theory as being about race. It’s a distraction from teaching academics.”
Sex education at an inappropriate age.
“It causes desensitization of sexuality, which is probably one of the biggest issues of this decade because we have sex trafficking that has been on a huge rise and this is the corridor in our state for sex trafficking,” Lowe added. “We also have sexual addiction across the nation and I think that parents should be included in anything that is discussed.”
Parental choice for masks and vaccinations.
“Richardson ISD talks a lot about local control, and that’s why they said they were fighting the mask mandate because they didn’t want Gov. Abbott to be in control,” Clemens stated. “They want local control. Well, the local control is me. I am the local control of my own kids. I should have local control over my family and what can be put on my kid’s face. That’s the ultimate level of control.”