A state lawmaker is defending an upcoming law that will institute standards for library services to keep sexually explicit materials out of school libraries.
Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), the READER Act’s primary author, took to Twitter to defend the law after a lawsuit was filed to prevent it from going into effect on September 1.
Signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, HB 900 directs the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to develop and adopt standards for materials allowable in school libraries. It also requires booksellers to rate books based on their sexual content. Vendors will not be permitted to provide any material rated sexually explicit to schools.
Vendors who continue to provide schools with books containing inappropriate sexual content can face penalties, such as being banned from selling any books to taxpayer-funded campuses.
As reported by The Dallas Express, several small booksellers have claimed the law is an unconstitutional “book ban” that violates free speech protections.
“The Book Ban is equally unconstitutional here, where the State seeks to force booksellers to adopt its preferred message,” the lawsuit alleges. “The Book Ban’s repressive speech regime — and the associated financial sanctions for noncompliance — are ‘more than enough … to represent an impermissible abridgment of the First Amendment’s right to speak freely.’”
However, Patterson claimed that not a single book has been banned in Texas and that suggesting the READER Act would do so is a blatant misrepresentation.
“They start by claiming we are ‘banning books’ based on race or sexuality. Next, they get a couple of small, independent bookstores with little resources to sue. … Then, they start pulling popular books that don’t fit the criteria just to prove a point,” he tweeted.
“They’ll claim poor reading scores are due to ‘book bans’ despite not a single book being banned in Texas,” Patterson continued. “Different issue, same playbook.”
“You’re mistaken if you think we don’t see right through you,” he added, addressing detractors of the upcoming law. “We know you want to sexualize our kids. It stops now.”
Texas officials have responded to the lawsuit, asking the court to dismiss it for “jurisdictional and merits-based reasons.”
Responding to concerns that the law would prevent students from accessing scientific information about sex, Patterson noted that it “doesn’t regulate sex education, anatomy & physiology, science, health, art, or other subjects.”
“It simply ensures age-appropriate materials are accessible to students, particularly when dealing with hardcore erotic novels, images and movies,” he claimed.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for August 28 at 9 a.m. before Judge Alan Albright.