School District Votes to Destroy Chapters From a Textbook

A school district in Texas has decided to censor chapters from a textbook. Read on to learn more about this shocking decision.

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Many Republicans, both lawmakers and overly concerned parents, have been attempting to ban books from schools and libraries. For the most part, the books have been novels with material that some people may see as inappropriate but are usually fairly innocuous and already popular. However, it appears that the calls for book bans have approached new genres, so to speak. In Texas, there have been calls to ban certain textbooks. The approach to trying to ban pre-approved educational material shows that these book-banners will go to great lengths for their agenda.

What happened in Texas?

This specific situation happened in Houston, in the Cypress Fairbanks independent school district. The textbook in question was a science textbook, which some people believed needed to have some of its chapters redacted. The chapters that were requested for redaction were about topics including the science of vaccines, climate change, diversity, and other topics. Considering these are in a science textbook, the assumption would be that all topics would be facts. However, some people disagree.

Vector map of the state of Texas in red, white, and blue US flag colors set against a white background.
IMAGE VIA VECTOR PORTAL

Due to the many concerns about the chapters in the science textbook, the board of trustees for the district decided to put the motion to a vote. With a 6 to 1 vote, the board approved the motion to redact these chapters from the textbook. The motion passing demonstrates the conservative ideals that Texas is notorious for and how it now affects what students are taught. Censorship can be harmful in society, especially when that censorship impacts potentially useful knowledge.

Texas Freedom to Read Comments

The decision has caused some anger and annoyance by people in the community, both from the school district and from the state of Texas. Specifically, there has been criticism from the Texas Freedom to Read project. This organization, which began in 2023, has recognized the rapidly increasing book banning across Texas and is trying to support the freedom of speech in literature for young people.

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IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR/RACHEL ROSENFIELD

Laney Hawes, co-founder of the organization, has condemned the Cypress Fairbanks decision.

“To ban entire chapters of textbooks and withhold that information from students is not only unconstitutional,” Hawes stated, “but it is taking away their access to real-life ideas that exist in this world… Access to a diverse and wide range of information is what prepares students to navigate this world successfully.” She continued, “When we ban books and limit students’ ability to access ideas, we are closing doors to their futures.”

The Stats on Book Banning

According to PEN America, 3,362 books were banned in the 2022–2023 school year. Compared to the previous school year, the numbers increased by 33%. That means that the 2023–2024 school year likely saw an even larger number of book bans. Of those book bans, 625 of them happened in Texas, making it the state with the second most bans behind Florida, showing how a situation like this one is becoming all too familiar in Texas.

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IMAGE VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The most popularly banned topic is violence, but high on the list of banned topics are LGBTQ and diversity topics, with each topic being the reason for bans 30% of the time, respectively. Usually, the books that are found to be banned are novels, mostly ones that were written with the intention of reaching a young audience. While the banning of textbooks, or sections of textbooks, is a rare occasion, the situation in Houston shows that it is possible and that it could be included in the percentages as the censoring grows.

When information is placed in a textbook, it is usually because that information represents important facts that can be beneficial for a child’s learning experience. The textbook information is the type of information that many students need to know. When information is removed, then that shapes how students see the world. Not including facts about certain topics can have an impact on a student’s ability to embrace information in a meaningful way. Facts should not have an agenda; they should just be presented as facts.


If you want to read more about book banning, click here.

Try out some of these books on our Banned Books: Because We Stand With the Well Informed bookshelf on Bookshop.org.

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