Metro Weekly

Texas Superintendent Removes Books Covering LGBTQ Issues from School Libraries

A recording of a meeting with library officials reveals anti-LGBTQ attitudes were the driving force behind the removal of 130 books.

Empty library – Photo: Matthew Hurst.

In early January of 2022, one Texas school district superintendent truly dedicated himself to the anti-LGBTQ movement sweeping across American state legislatures, directing librarians in the district to permanently remove roughly 130 books from their shelves — over 75 percent of which contained LGBTQ characters or themes.

Granbury Independent School District Superintendent Jeremy Glenn gave the order during a confidential meeting with district librarians held on January 10.

A recording of the meeting obtained by NBC News, ProPublica, and The Texas Tribune revealed the contents of the meeting and the reasoning behind his directive. Glenn, following in line with the arguments many Texas officials have made when banning books, told the librarians he didn’t want kids “reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” whether the book was “about homosexuality or heterosexuality.”

His comments in the meeting went much further — and were much more explicitly hateful — than that argument. He emphasized to the librarians that the community, the school board members, and the district were all “very, very conservative” and that should the librarians hold differing political views, that “they better hide it.”

Glenn continued, “And I’m going to take it a step further with you. Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this. It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”

With the support of the school board behind Glenn, the librarians, regardless of their views, didn’t have much choice but to fall in line with the order, and removed approximately 130 books for “review.”

Currently, a “volunteer review committee” has voted to ban three of the books and return the others. But with that being only a committee staffed by volunteers, the vote holds no real weight. Ultimately, the decision to return the books rests in the hands of Glenn or the school board.

It appears this is only the beginning of Glenn’s crusade against LGBTQ books. Under this policy, there is no public review process by which a book’s removal can be examined. Glenn and “other administrators” will have free reign to remove any books related to LGBTQ issues.

This isn’t Glenn’s first foray into taking a public stand against LGBTQ individuals. While a superintendent of a different Texas school district in 2014, Glenn was a contributing author — along with other “education professors” — to a book that outright condemned the LGBTQ topics finding their way into schools.

This latest action of banning books as a means to prevent students from being exposed to LGBTQ topics has not gone unopposed. Students in the Granbury Independent School District started a petition, which has so far amased over 600 signatures, urging the return of the removed books.

The purge also seems to have extended to books that deal with racism or race-related topics, under the auspices of banning material that relates to so-called “critical race theory” or espouses views critical of the United States or its history, as well as topics such as sexual education, abortion, and women’s rights.

ACLU Texas published a letter in February stating that Glenn’s actions were unconstitutional, demanding they be reversed.

“Granbury ISD’s mass book removals have already harmed students in the district, both by directly suppressing speech and access to ideas and by sending the message to Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ students that Granbury ISD rejects their history and belonging in the community,” the letter reads. “All removed books must be placed back on Granbury ISD shelves as swiftly as possible, and the district must revert to its prior policy for challenges to library books and disband its newly created library review committee.”

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