Testimony Opposing HB 900: Literature and Books are Havens for the Young Mind

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Over the last two years, Texas libraries and librarians – like their counterparts in other states – have been subject to consistent, targeted attacks on nearly every aspect of their day-to-day operations. HB 900 is another blatant attempt to score the favor of people who falsely believe that librarians do anything but dedicate their lives to the pursuit and protection of knowledge, and as such should be rejected. 

There have been moments in history that were witness to similar anti-intellectual attempts to restrict the thoughts and ideas people, particularly children, could be exposed to. In the years leading up to the Enlightenment, the Catholic Church put Galileo in prison and later to death for daring to challenge their so-called divine order. During the Enlightenment, foundational Western thought leaders were decried as anti-Christian and persecuted by some governments. In the United States, the powerful few have consistently tried to restrict the information people can access based on the political winds of the day. HB 900 is another effort in a long line – this time well-moneyed out-of-state extremists – to restrict the knowledge available to the powerless many who use library books to lift themselves out of the darkness of ignorance. 

Texas refuses to teach kids about themselves, their history,  and their culture by limiting science-based health classes and access to intellectually honest social studies curriculums. Texas kids need to see themselves in library books because our state is consistently working to erase them from classroom learning materials. Books like  “Gender Queer” by author Maia Kobabe are not “pornographic in nature” just because they visually depict a body part or include descriptions of sexual activity. Furthermore, the entire public school library system should not be attacked for having it in its collection. On the contrary, public school libraries should be allowed to continue doing what they have always done: carefully curate well-rounded, inclusive libraries that allow students a breadth of resources to discover more about the world around them.

Texas can try to eliminate “Gender Queer” all it wants, but it will not eliminate the people who rely on books as havens from the hate and vitriol aimed at them by powerful, narrow-minded interests. Every Texan urges the Senate Education Committee to reject HB 900 and allow libraries to serve students according to their intellectually honest and age-appropriate professional standards.

For additional information, contact Jaime Puente at puente@everytexan.org.

View this testimony as a PDF here 

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