Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the Texas Association of School Boards to remove materials from schools that expose children to pornography and other inappropriate content.
“A growing number of parents of Texas students are becoming increasingly alarmed about some of the books and other content found in public school libraries that are extremely inappropriate in the public education system,” Abbott said in the letter Monday. “The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that have no place in the Texas public education system.”
“These parents are rightfully angry,” he continued.
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Abbott noted that while content such as textbooks has to be approved by the State Board of Education, materials that are in libraries or in other classroom resources are reviewed by the districts themselves. Without being accountable to the state, the Republican governor said individual school boards should take the initiative to remove any inappropriate content.
“Parents have the right to shield their children from obscene content used in schools their children attend,” Abbott said. “They are right that Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.”
Abbott’s letter comes as much of Virginia‘s tightly-contested gubernatorial election has centered around parents and how much influence they should have on materials school districts make available to students.
Toni Morrison’s famous work “Beloved,” which describes scenes of sexual violence and gang rapes, has played a central role in the debate after a Virginia parent whose son was assigned the book lobbied Virginia’s GOP controlled legislature in 2016 and 2017 to pass legislation that would have required that parents be notified if their children were exposed to books containing sexually explicit material.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, who at the time was serving as governor of the state, vetoed the legislation, a decision GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin has repeatedly criticized.
In Texas, Abbott argued that the Texas Association of School Boards has an “obligation” to identify any inappropriate materials in its schools and “remove any such content.”
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“You must also ensure transparency about the materials being taught in the classroom and offered in school libraries,” Abbot said, adding that “each of our schools should have an appropriate and transparent process to vet library materials before they are used.
“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,” the governor concluded.