Keller ISD

Parents Face-Off Over Graphic Content and LGBTQ Books in School Libraries

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The library, the place long cherished as the source of information on everything, is now in the crosshairs. Groups of parents are demanding certain books be removed.

"It's because they're explicit, they're pornographic," said Joni Smith, a parent in Keller Independent School District. 

Weeks ago parents from the group began searching the shelves at schools in Keller. At Timbercreek High School's library, they found a book called Gender Queer with images showing two men engaged in sexual activity. 

"You can't even show these images in this segment without the FCC fining you," said Smith.

Keller ISD removed the book, saying "the book was removed pending an investigation to determine how the book was selected and made available to students."

Was it isolated? The group found more. Another book had images of two women engaged in sexual activity. 

"We have a lot of trust in our school district. We send our kids there, we have an expectation that in that trusts with not just one book but multiple books being found, that's caused that trust to be diminished," said Keller ISD parent David McGuffee.

Both McGuffee and Smith saw social media posts being circulated online including some by a political action committee Moms for Liberty. The same group that brought attention to Critical Race Theory.

The group now has a list of books they want out of schools and is asking members and parents to search for them. 

"We started to look at the list of books that parents should be aware of that have been found in campuses," said Smith.

Almost every book on that group's list has to do with LGBTQ issues or race.

At Monday night's school board meeting some parents fought back.

"This political action committee isn't here to protect our children from pornography they're here to attack diversity," one parent said. 

"Schools are under attack," said Mike Sexton, who is part of a group of parents who are now coming together to argue against the Moms for Liberty. 

"The scary part about this is we're saying anything that offends us we're going to remove, that means every book is going to be gone," said Sexton.

Sexton says yes, a handful of the books may have crossed a line, but that doesn't mean you align yourself with a group of people that appears to be attacking all LGBTQ and race issues. 

Smith insists that's not what's happening with her. She said she took notes from the Moms For Liberty list, as well as others.

"It just so happens that Gender Queer is about gender identity it could have been about green aliens it was still pornographic," she said. "While, it’s unfortunate many of the titles are LGBTQ and race-related, we are in no way targeting those only. We are trying to eliminate sexually explicit and pornographic books."

Both Smith and McGuffee say they don't have issues with LGBTQ people or diversity.

"I absolutely feel like they should have those types of books available but absolutely none of them should be something we can't show on TV," Smith said.

The issue is boiling over. Both sides squared off to raucous applause at Keller ISD's board meeting.  

"Just because some parents don't want their children to read the heart-wrenching and eye-opening novel 'The Kite Runner' shouldn't mean the opportunity is taken away from every child in the district," said one parent.

"These explicit pornographic parts that show nasty parts whether heterosexual or gay they shouldn't be allowed," countered another.

State lawmakers, even the governor, are weighing in on the images found in Keller.

What are the steps forward on how to police books in schools? It's all being debated. It's the latest chapter in what seems to be a year of race, masks, and now books bringing politics and controversy in the classroom.   

Editors Note:  Despite initially aligning herself with Moms for Liberty when speaking with NBC DFW, Joni Smith informed us after our story aired that she is not an actual member of the group.  She said she took notes from the Moms for Liberty's list of questionable books and did some research of school books on their behalf but is not aligned officially with the organization.

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