AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers have passed a bill that would ban certain books from public school libraries. It now heads to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 900, authored by state Rep. Jared Patterson, a Frisco Republican, will eliminate “sexually explicit books” from school libraries.

It also requires vendors to rate titles with sexual content — similar to movie ratings — before selling them to school districts, allows parents to opt out of their student checking out certain books and directs school districts to continually report books they have available by making that list accessible to community members and the Texas Education Agency.

The bill, often referred to as the Restricting Explicit and Adult Designated Educational Resources, or READER Act, was named a top priority in the House.

“With the strength, grit and determination of Texas moms and the countless prayers of a grateful state, we have finally accomplished a significant win for Texas schoolchildren,” Patterson said after the bill passed.

The movement to remove certain books from Texas public libraries and classrooms gained steam in 2021 when former state Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, released a list of 850 books — most of which predominantly reflected LGBTQ and person of color narratives — that he believed could make students feel uncomfortable.

Krause directed school districts to provide him with a list of any of those books they had on their shelves.

Patterson thanked Krause for his efforts when celebrating the success of the bill.

Critics of the bill said they fear the broad language will eliminate cherished books from Texas schools.

“Everyone in the House doesn't want pornography in our schools or in our libraries, right? But I think the bill, as written currently, is drafted in a way that would sweep a lot of the books under that rug,” state Rep. James Talarico, a Round Rock Democrat, said.

Johnathan Gooch, communications director for Equality Texas, a statewide political advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community, said targeting books written for LGBTQ and other minority communities can be detrimental to young people. 

“I know that those are difficult topics to discuss, but they’re also very real topics that reflect the very real pain that so many people experience,” Gooch said. “I think it’s important that we be able to have healthy conversations with children about the darker aspects of life.”

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