Texas School Districts Defy GOP Lawmaker's 'Disturbing' Probe Into Books on Race, Sexuality

School districts in Dallas and Austin, Texas, reportedly said on Friday that they would disregard a request by state Rep. Matt Krause to probe school library books addressing race and sexuality.

The Austin Independent School District was the first to defy that request and the Dallas school district followed shortly afterward, the Houston Chronicle reported.

On October 25, Krause, the Republican chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, sent a letter obtained by the Texas Tribune to the Texas Education Agency. It requested a probe in an effort to identify any school district books that focus on race, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually explicit images, and graphic presentations of sexual behavior.

The purpose of the probe is to pinpoint content "that is in violation of the law or might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously."

Krause included a document listing 850 books that address topics including homosexuality, abortion and race. Among them were the novel The Great American Whatever and a children's book by Stacey and Erik Drageset titled "Pink is a Girl Color"...and other silly things people say. It also added race-themed books such as How Prevalent Is Racism in Society? by Peggy J. Parks, and Black Lives Matter: From Hashtags to the Streets.

The list also included an Amnesty International book titled We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures.

Krause's action sparked criticism among some Texas teacher groups who said that the inquiry is a "disturbing and political overreach into the classroom."

"Nothing in state law gives a legislator the authority to conduct this type of witch hunt," said Ovidia Molina, the president of the Texas State Teachers Association, according to NPR. "This is an obvious attack on diversity and an attempt to score political points at the expense of our children's education."

According to Krause's letter, school districts have until November 12 to respond to his request for an investigation.

School districts in San Antonio, Houston, Round Rock, Northside, Fort Worth, Northside and Spring Branch also received Krause's request, the Texas Tribune reported.

Newsweek contacted the Austin Independent School District, the Dallas Independent School District, and Krause's office for comments.

Per the Houston Chronicle, a spokesperson from the Austin Independent School District said: "After doing more legal research, we've decided that a response is not necessary, especially since anyone can search our library catalogs."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Dallas Independent School District told the publication that "the letter is an unofficial request."

Texas school districts defy inquiry about books
Republican Texas state Rep. Matt Krause wants to probe 850 books available across school districts, including books about race and sexuality. Above, bookshelves of library books stand reflected in the media center of the Newfield Elementary School on August 31, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.