Texas Book Ban: Part I

Conservatives all across America have steadily ramped up a push to remove ‘critical race theory’ from schools. Republican states like Texas have used ‘book ban’ bills to remove books relating to racism, LGBT+ issues, and sex education from classrooms and even libraries.

The updated version of Texas Senate Bill 3 went into effect late last year. It prohibits teaching any material that could cause students to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex.

This has primarily been enforced through the ‘review’ of school and classroom libraries. Teachers must now ensure they avoid framing socio-political issues from one perspective.

One teacher from Southlake was reprimanded last year, after her student’s mother complained having This Book Is Anti-Racist (by Tiffany Jewell) violated her family’s ‘morals and faith’.

What is ‘critical race theory’?

The foundations of critical race theory (CRT) emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, and essentially assert that race is a social construct, intrinsic in legal and social systems.

In other words, CRT teaches that racism is not a matter of individual bias, but a socially-embedded institution.

Republicans (and other conservatives) have attacked CRT on the basis that it makes white students feel they are inherently privileged and oppressive. Many conservatives extend this argument to the gender/sexuality sphere, suggesting cisgender, straight, male students are made to feel unhappy or guilty at the expense of LGBT+ teens.

While removing all mention of non-white, non-cis, non-straight individuals from libraries and classrooms might shelter one narrow group of students, other children will suffer immensely.

A trans child could very well feel ‘guilt’ or ‘psychological distress’, knowing books with characters like them are seen as ‘perverse’. The ‘anguish’ of a child experiencing racism is sure to be exacerbated by the lack of POC support and representation on shelves.

Teachers across Texas have protested these measures. When asked to review books in their classrooms to ensure they fit the new guidelines, teachers wrapped their shelves in caution tape.

“How am I supposed to know what 44 sets of parents find offensive?” one teacher complained, “We’ve been told: ‘The parents are our clients. We have to do what they want.’”

Tune in tomorrow for part 2.

Cover photo by Alexei Maridashvili on Unsplash.

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