More library books were challenged in Texas last year than in any other state in the nation.
Texas made 93 challenges to libraries last year over 2,349 different books, according to a study by the American Library Association (ALA). The group’s “Office for Intellectual Freedom” found 1,269 challenges nationwide in 2022 seeking to remove books perceived as inappropriate or even harmful to children — the highest recorded annual total since the study began two decades ago.
“Books are not the sole target of attacks orchestrated by conservative parent groups and right-wing media,” ALA claimed. “Both school and public librarians are increasingly in the crosshairs of conservative groups during book challenges and subject to defamatory name-calling, online harassment, social media attacks, and doxxing, as well as direct threats to their safety, their employment, and their very liberty.”
Some titles made available to minors at schools have prompted protests from concerned parents and community members. Dallas ISD, for instance, ignited an outcry after keeping the book Jack of Hearts (and other parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen on library shelves for months after some of the sexually explicit content in the book was brought to the attention of school board trustees on multiple occasions, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
“If it had been a movie, it would be rated X. It’s offensive and completely inappropriate for our children,” Tami Brown Rodriguez told The Dallas Express back in February. Dallas ISD apparently pulled the title earlier this year.
ALA claimed in its report that prior to 2022, requests to remove library materials typically were for a single book, but that in 2022, 90% of challenges were for multiple books. Of those who requested multiple books to be removed, 40% identified more than 100 titles.
The most common group to report books last year, according to the study, was parents at 30%. They were followed by “patrons” at 28%, political and religious groups at 17%, school boards and administrators at 15%, librarians and teachers at 3%, and elected officials at 3%.
The study was based on reports filed by librarians and news stories covering the topic, which the ALA claimed “represents a snapshot of book censorship.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Texas Library and Archives Commission said it would cut its ties with ALA last month after it was revealed the group’s new president identifies as a “Marxist lesbian.”
Relatedly, Texas passed HB 900 earlier this year, which bans school libraries from purchasing sexually explicit books. The law is currently facing legal challenges over concerns it allegedly violates First Amendment free speech protections and forces government views on book vendors.
All of the top 13 most challenged books in the country were cited for allegedly containing sexually explicit material, according to ALA. The top-challenged book was Gender Queer, which includes an illustrated depiction of oral sex. The second most challenged book, All Boys Aren’t Blue, describes anal sex in detail.