Charles Luke: What Do Masks, Library Books, Critical Race Theory, and Transgender Rights Have in Common?
At Reform Austin, Charles Luke talks about the many forms of protest sweeping the concerned citizens of Texas.
In Texas, it’s not just concerned citizens that are complaining. Politicians are cashing in on the fears of their right-wing base by issuing edicts, holding town halls, and leading charges against school districts. State Rep. Matt Krause, Chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content,” according to an article and an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune. Krause included a list of 850 titles that he believes some people may find objectionable. Krause was then running for Texas Attorney General in a crowded field of candidates but has since dropped out.
Not to be outdone, Gov. Greg Abbott issued his own edict about library books – but to the wrong people. In a November 1, 2021 letter to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), he reminded the organization that their members have a collective responsibility to determine if obscene materials exist in school libraries and to remove any such content. When TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell informed Governor Abbott that TASB is merely a school trustee membership organization and has no regulatory authority over schools, Abbott responded by accusing the organization of abdicating their responsibility in the matter and directed the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the State Board of Education to address the issue by developing standards to “prevent the presence of pornography and obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries.”
In their fervor to motivate their base, some legislators are taking it a step further and involving their local communities. Rep. Steve Toth – an evangelical minister and the author of the bill outlawing the teaching of critical race theory – received support in a November 15, 2021, Facebook post from Grace Woodlands Church calling on church and community members to attend a November 16th school board meeting of the Conroe ISD to tell them to “stop the teaching of Critical Race Theory, Trans-Genderism, Hyper-Sexuality, Value Shaming, Political Activism, and Virtue Signaling.” No definition of any of these terms nor any evidence that the district was teaching any of this was provided in the post.