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Texas leads the nation in book bans, a new report says

Texas leads the nation in book bans, a new report says
Texas leads the nation in book bans, a new report says 02:38

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, Texas had more book bans than any other state in the nation, according to a new report by PEN America, a nonprofit group that advocates for freedom of expression. 

In North Texas, the controversy has played out in school board meetings in Granbury, Grapevine-Colleyville, and Keller. 

PEN America

PEN America found local political and advocacy groups are targeting books with LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, along with topics of sexuality and racism. 

"They're making these kids a political pawn and they're trying to start a cultural war that's going to win them votes," said Mary Woodard, the president of the Texas Library Association. "And that's really unfortunate because it puts it puts kids and teachers and librarians in the middle." 

The report documented about 800 book bans in more than 20 school districts across Texas. 

Keller ISD got national attention last month after it pulled dozens of books from its shelves, including the Bible and a graphic adaption of The Diary of Anne Frank. 

A week later, the school board adopted new content guidelines. 

The district has a list on its website of what books are under review and whether they've been permanently removed from circulation. 

"I like what they are doing," said Keller ISD parent Meagan Mahoney. "They're giving it a fair shot… I think certain books belong at schools, and other books belong at public libraries. I don't particularly feel that books should be banned in general. I think there's a certain place for books." 

PEN America

The Texas Library Association says every school district already has a transparent process for selecting library books, and certified librarians are trained on what's appropriate for age, maturity, and reading level. 

Woodard is concerned the increase in book bans will especially harm students of marginalized communities. 

"The books are in the library to help kids gain empathy for kids that are different from them," she said. "They also help kids explore complex issues, different perspectives." 

The Bible and Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaption have been returned to library shelves in Keller ISD. 

The district says any book that is challenged is held in a parental consent area until it's gone through the review process. It's unclear how long that takes. 

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