Texas leads the nation in number of books banned from school libraries

The study comes a month after San Antonio's NEISD was found to have banned more books than any other district in Texas.

Book reviews during the 2021-2022 school year took place after Texas Rep. Matt Krause demanded districts review books on a list of 850 titles he circulated. - Wikipedia Commons / Charles Hackey
Wikipedia Commons / Charles Hackey
Book reviews during the 2021-2022 school year took place after Texas Rep. Matt Krause demanded districts review books on a list of 850 titles he circulated.

Texas banned more books from school libraries than any other U.S. state, according to a new report.

The study published Monday by PEN America, a nonprofit free-speech advocacy group, found that 22 school districts across the Lone Star State banned 801 books between July 2021 and June of this year. PEN defined a ban as any action taken against a book based on its content after challenges from parents or lawmakers.

The number of books banned in Texas far exceeded that of runner-up Florida, which banned 566 titles, and third place in Pennsylvania, where 457 books were taken off school shelves.

Titles that were banned the most nationally include Out of Darkness, a novel by Hope Peréz that follows a love story between a Mexican American teen and a Black teen in 1930s East Texas, and Roe v. Wade: A Woman's Choice.

"This censorious movement is turning our public schools into political battlegrounds, driving wedges within communities, forcing teachers and librarians from their jobs, and casting a chill over the spirit of open inquiry and intellectual freedom that underpin a flourishing democracy," Suzanne Nossel, PEN America's chief executive officer said in a press release.

San Antonio's North East ISD led the way in Texas as the district that reviewed and banned the most books in the state, according to a recent Hearst News investigation.

Many of the NEISD book removals came after crusading state Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, sent a list of 850 books to school districts across the state inquiring how many of its titles — many dealing with LGBTQ+ issues and racial justice — were available on campus libraries.

Although Texas schools face increased pressure to remove controversial books, a CBS poll conducted earlier this year found that more than 80% of Americans disagree with banning books about history or race.

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