KELLER, Texas — Parents put books at the forefront of Monday night’s Keller Independent School District School Board meeting.
The topic, which has sparked debate across Texas, wasn’t on the agenda, but during public comment they voiced their concerns over books they view to be sexually explicit and want the district to remove them from school libraries.
This isn’t the first time parents have been vocal about books their children have access to at Keller schools. They’ve been going to meetings since October 2021, requesting school leaders to take action.
Frustrated parents pointed out other districts have handled similar situations and told the board they’re not listening to their concerns.
“Why are we here? We’re angry," one parent said. "We are fed up with pornographic materials that are still in our libraries accessible to our children."
Another parent told the board that they are "holding you accountable for failing to protect our students and we will be answering this in the upcoming elections."
Parents and community members have challenged 33 books in Keller schools since October, all of which are reviewed by a district-formed book committee. The challenged books have included "Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation," the Bible and Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye."
"The Bluest Eye" was kept in schools after committee review. The parent who first challenged the Bible later withdrew their challenge. A second challenge is pending review. "Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation" is also pending.
Of the 33 titles challenged, 10 have been removed from circulation, and several others are still pending review.
Among the books removed from circulation are: "Panic," by Sharon Draper; "Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)" by L.C. Rosen; "Flamer" by Mike Curato; and "Gender Queer," by Maia Kobabe.
Keller ISD school board did not vote or make a decision on the books at question, though each book that is challenged is reviewed by the district's book challenge committee.
According to the district website, anyone can "make any formal objection to an instructional resource" in the district. When it comes to book challenges, the committee will review the book "in its entirety" and then determine whether the book should be removed from circulation.
In some cases, books have been limited to high school libraries, rather than across all levels of the district.
The district also gives parents several opt-out options when it comes to the books their children have access to.
The Keller book debate comes at a divisive time in Texas education, as districts and school officials have faced accusations of teaching critical race theory and allowing LGBTQ-related books in school.
Michael Hinojosa, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, recently called the critical race theory attacks a "manufactured crisis" that "is not real."
"This is a national playbook by some real smart, organized people who pay people to go out and create havoc,” Hinojosa said at a roundtable with other superintendents in Austin this month.
Jeannie Stone, the former superintendent in Richardson, said she spent a day going through books that were challenged in her district. What she found were "books that were inclusive of students that are in our schools," she said at the roundtable.