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Keller ISD Approves New Content Guidelines for Library Books

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The Keller ISD Board of Education has adopted new content guidelines a week after pulling dozens of previously challenged and approved books from library shelves.

KELLER, Texas — The Keller ISD adopted new guidelines Monday night to determine what is and is not appropriate for school libraries.

At the sometimes tumultuous Keller ISD board meeting, members voted 4 to 2, with one abstaining to approve new guidelines for judging the suitability of books for libraries.

A day before the start of the new school year, the school district received national attention when 41 books were challenged, reviewed by a committee of parents and community members, and finally approved for use. .

Many of the books contain themes of sexuality.

More than 45 people spoke at the board meeting on Monday night, the majority of whom opposed the board’s policy on books.

Keller High School junior Cameron Mann is openly gay and, as a middle school student struggling to make sense of his sexuality, read books with characters like himself. He told the board that he felt “seen” for the first time after reading it.

“The fact is that marginalized students at the Keller ISD feel attacked by the school board,” he said. “What you don’t seem to understand is that this basic censorship is more than politics, it’s about lives.”

Parents and community members who favored stricter book content policies said it was the right of parents to decide what their children should read about gender and sexuality.

“Teaching children about sexuality and that there are two genders is my space,” said one mother. It’s my space. It’s my space to block them from porn.”

The school district policy, adopted Monday night, lists the following subjects against which content will be judged: profanity, kissing, horror, violence, bullying, drug or alcohol or tobacco use by minors, and adults. drug use, as well as suicide, self-glorification. – Harm, or mental illness; depictions of non-sexual nudity; sexually explicit acts or sexual abuse; illustrations or descriptions of naked body parts. passionate or prolonged kisses; detailed sex scenes;

It then determines whether those themes are pervasive, common, or minimal.

“This is a difficult one for me,” said board member Lucy Keyes, noting that definitions of pervasive, general and minimal are too subjective.

Educators who review the guidelines are likely to have to remove two-thirds of the books from their shelves, she said.

“It’s a lot,” she said.

RELATED: North Texas school district takes books from library to review, including Bible and adaptation of ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’

Although the new content policy states that challenged and removed material can be revisited and put back in after 10 years, only 1 challenged material remains in the library. You can reconsider after a year.

In a statement released before the meeting on Monday night and read aloud at the beginning of the meeting, School Board President Charles Landcliff said, “The new Keller ISD Board will continue to We acted decisively to protect against pornographic material.”

“The new policy will restore the voice of parents and educators,” he said, adding that the Keller ISD “prioritized children’s innocence over adult politics.”

Some of the crowd applauded as Landcliff read out the statement.

Others, however, held up signs saying things like ‘Give me all your books’ or ‘This is your responsibility’.

Rick Westfall, head of the Keller ISD, said the move of previously approved books was only temporary until they were determined to meet the new guidelines.

“Books that are challenged by community members as inappropriate for schools should be removed from the shelves and placed in the Parental Consent Area until the appeals process is completed,” he said on the Keller ISD website. wrote in a statement. “Books that were previously challenged will also be moved to the Parental Consent Area to determine whether those books meet the policy’s new standards and guidelines to be considered shortly by the Board.”

School districts across the state continue to face library book challenges and audits that have become a priority for some Republican legislators who want to eliminate books about sex, gender, or race.

In May of this year, the Keller ISD was one of the districts where hundreds of thousands of dollars were poured into the fierce school board competition.

As a result, three new conservative candidates joined the board.