Books Removed From Texas Public Libraries Due To LGBTQ And Racial Content Must Be Returned Within 24 Hours, According To A Judge

According to an order filed on Thursday, a federal judge in Texas determined that at least 12 books seized from public libraries by Llano County officials, many because of their LGBTQ and racial content, must be put back on the shelves within 24 hours.

In April 2022, seven county residents filed a lawsuit alleging that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been infringed when books that Republican lawmakers and other members of the community found offensive were either taken from public libraries or access was restricted.

According to the lawsuit, county officials removed books from the three-branch public library system’s shelves “because they disagree with the beliefs in them” and cut off access to thousands of digital books because they were unable to forbid two specific titles.

Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” and Jazz Jennings’ “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” are among the books that have been ordered to be put back on the shelves.

According to US District Judge Robert Pitman’s decision, the library system must likewise list these works as being available in its catalog and cannot delete any volumes for any reason while the lawsuit is still pending.

Pitman stated that although libraries are given a lot of freedom in their book selection and purchase choices, the First Amendment forbids the removal of books from libraries on the basis of viewpoint or content discrimination.

With worrying increases in attempts to censor books in K–12 schools, universities, and public libraries, the battle to defend access to books is taking place against the backdrop of a book banning boom. Several of these initiatives, which are a part of a larger, conservative-led drive to undermine the rights and status of LGBTQ People, aim to ban books with LGBTQ characters or themes.

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Additionally, a large number of book bans target authors of color who write about history, racism, or their own experiences in America.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Texas lawsuit, Ellen Leonida, declared that “this is a ringing triumph for democracy.” “The government has no right to impose reading requirements on its people. The free interchange of ideas is the cornerstone of our country, therefore banning literature you find offensive is a clear violation of our fundamental liberties.

If Llano County officials have cooperated with the judge’s order is not immediately evident.

Four members of the Llano County library board, Bonnie Wallace, Rochelle Wells, Rhonda Schneider, and Gay Baskin, as well as county commissioners Jerry Don Moss, Peter Jones, Mike Sandoval, and Linda Raschke, as well as director of the library system Amber Milum, are named as co-defendants in the case. CNN’s inquiries for comments received no response from them.

The defendants claimed the volumes were taken out as part of routine “weeding” in accordance with the library’s rules, but Pitman claimed there was obvious outside involvement.

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