Texas School Investigated by Office for Civil Rights After Books Pulled

Photo Credit: Pete Alexopoulos

Granbury ISD, a district roughly 60 miles west of Dallas, is under federal investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights after 131 books were removed from the school library in January of 2022.

Before the start of the semester last year, the superintendent asked librarians to remove books that didn’t align with the conservative community. Graphic novels swept up in this removal included Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Class Act, Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, a collection about famous women entitled No Girls Allowed, and V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. By February 2022, 103 of the books had been returned, one was removed, two were lost, and 25 were held for further review.

The ACLU issued the complaint to the Office for Civil Rights last July.  The complaint is not solely based on the removal of books; it includes comments made by the superintendent from a recording at the previously mentioned meeting. At one point, the recording catches the superintendent commenting on the topics to be removed, “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books.” Comments like this, in combination with the book removal, are what the ACLU claims have created a “pervasively hostile” environment for LGBTQ students. If this wasn’t enough, members of the review committee who voted to return most of the books to the shelves were reported to law enforcement for providing “pornography” to children. All these factors contribute to the creation of a hostile environment that would violate Title IX protections.

Title IX was signed into effect in 1972 as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It ensures that people should be free from “discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.” This is the case not solely for public schools but any institution that receives funds from the DOE, including charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. If the investigation determines any violations occured, the district could be subject to policy changes and federal monitoring.

This investigation by the OCR is particularly notable because it is the first time the federal government has become involved in the recent school bans and challenges outside the House Committee on Oversight hearing. The fact that it has gotten to this point speaks to the escalation of book challenges in the United States. We will continue with updates as the investigation continues.

CBLDF and its partners have been battling ongoing and organized attempts to censor comics and other books in schools and libraries. You can join the struggle by making a donation or reporting censorship today!