OAN’s Roy Francis
11:12 AM – Wednesday, May 23, 2023
In a decisive move on Tuesday night, Texas lawmakers passed a new bill that aims to establish a strict standard and rating for sexually explicit material found in books across the state.
The bill, House Bill 900, which was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, clearly defined “sexually explicit material” as books that include descriptions, illustrations, or audio depicting sexual conduct not relevant to the required school curriculum and prohibits such items from school libraries.
Senator Angela Paxton (R-Texas), the sponsor of the bill, said that the goal of the bill is to remove sexually explicit material from the “front of the eyes of kids.”
“What we’re talking about is sexually explicit material … that doesn’t belong in front of the eyes of kids,” she said. “They shouldn’t be finding it in their school library.”
The newly passed bill also requires the state’s Library and Archives Commission to adopt the same standard which schools must follow when purchasing books for their libraries. They are also required to follow a new rating system.
The new rating system under the bill would make book vendors rate books based on the depictions or references to sex contained in the book.
“Sexually relevant” would describe books that contain material that describes or portrays sex, but is part of the state’s required curriculum. Such books could be checked out from libraries only with a parent’s permission.
“Sexually explicit” describes books that contain material which is deemed offensive and not part of the curriculum. Such books would be completely removed from all school bookshelves.
The vendor ratings would be reviewed by state officials, who could then request a rating change if they deemed that the rating given to a book is not correct. Book sellers who refuse to comply with the new rating system would not be able to conduct business with school districts and open-enrollment charter schools throughout the state.
Those in opposition of the bill say that the standards that it sets are “too vague” and will ban books that are not inappropriate, such as material that has LGBTQ+ content.
The bill was passed by the Texas state Senate in a 19-12 vote on Tuesday night and was sent to Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) desk for his approval.
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