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Lawsuit: Texas Officials Banned Children’s Books They Found Politically Offensive

— April 28, 2022

The lawsuit claims that Llano County officials bullied a library into removing books that local leaders found offensive to their political and religious views.

A coalition of Texas residents have filed a lawsuit against Llano County officials, claiming that they engaged in censorship by pulling “inappropriate” books off the shelves of the local library system.

According to National Public Radio, the lawsuit—filed by “card-carrying members” of the local library system—was filed in federal court.

The complaint names as defendants numerous local officials, including a Llano County judge, several commissioners, and library personnel.

While county officials said they sought to remove “pornographic” materials from circulation, the coalition claims that books are being censored for political and religious reasons.

Library shelves. Image via Flickr/user:timetrax23. (source: (CCA-BY-2.0).

“Though plaintiffs differ in their ages, professions, and individual and religious political beliefs, they are fiercely united in their love for reading public library books and in their belief that the government cannot dictate which books they can and cannot read,” the lawsuit states.

The books removed from circulation include but are not limited to:

  • In the Night Kitchen, a children’s book by Maurice Sendak.
  • It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris.
  • The Origins of Our Discontents, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson.

In their lawsuit, Llano County library patrons say that few—if any—of the censored books were actually pornographic.

Instead, they say that local officials are targeting books that conflict with their political and religious ideals.

“Public libraries are not places of government indoctrination. They are not places where the people in power can dictate what their citizens are permitted to read about and learn. When government actors target public library books because they disagree with and intend to suppress the ideas contained within them, it jeopardizes the freedoms of everyone,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit notes that the censorship did not stop at pulling physical books from the library’s shelves: Llano County commissioners also voted to suspend the use of OverDrive, a company that distributes digital books.

Shirley Robinson, executive director of the Texas Library Association, told CNN that she hopes the lawsuit will inspire other Texans to speak up against political repression.

“It is a shame that this unnecessary culture war has led to this, but we applaud the efforts of these individuals to utilize the justice system to speak up and say with a clear voice ‘enough is enough,'” Robinson said. “We didn’t ask for this fight, but we’re certainly not going to lay down and let subjective opinion and politics restrict the freedom to read.”


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