Local parents participated in Cy-Fair ISD board meetings this school year to discuss the value of certain content and language used in books available to children, including those dealing with issues such as race , homosexuality, religion and sexual assault.
In recent meetings, parents have called for increased parental involvement in the selection, approval and removal of books from district libraries in the hope of protecting their children from viewpoints they find conflicting with their values and beliefs.
The parents requested that the book “Flamer”, for example, be removed from the CFISD libraries because of its obscene content. However, at the May 9 board meeting, local resident Jennifer Chenette said she believes such books can help students feel seen and heard. CFISD mother Monica Dean asked for a system to alert parents when their child borrows a book from the library that would allow the parent to accept, reject or request to review the content.
“It’s not about restricting books; it’s about giving parents more rights by granting permission for their student to check,” Dean said at the May 9 meeting.
book review process
The State Board of Education released guidance for districts to maximize transparency in book selections and limit potential exposure to inappropriate materials on April 11, after receiving a directive from Governor Greg Abbott.
CFISD has implemented book screening and removal procedures to ensure that students can access material relevant to their studies or for personal reading pleasure without being exposed to material that lacks redeeming social values. , according to director of studies Linda Macias.
The district has a certified librarian on each campus, where students have access to approximately 1.59 million physical and digital books.
Macias said library collections vary across the district because content is selected to meet the needs of students at each campus, but district officials want the collections “[enrich] the quality and diversity of thought and expression.
At the same time, parents can access campus library catalogs online and ask their child not to be allowed to view certain genres or books they deem inappropriate, Macias said. For books read in English lessons, parents are also notified two weeks before the start of a new unit and can opt for alternative selections.
Officials said the district removed nine books that had either been brought to its attention by other districts or included in an 850-book list. , anxiety or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender.
Macias said district-level library collections are carefully compiled with consideration of reading levels, curriculum enrichment and promotion of reading engagement.
“In the wide range of literature we provide to students, there may be scenes in which a character’s actions or motives generate conflicting opinions,” Macias said. “Our intention is never to condone this behavior, but rather to provide the opportunity to learn from various life experiences.”
Cy-Fair resident Julie Rix said she and her peers would like to see their values prioritized in district books and curricula.
“God, family, country is the moral majority,” Rix said. “We need the fear of God among us because we are all in a position of responsibility and will be held accountable to God for how we discipline the next generation.”
However, members of the Cy-Fair Civic Alliance strongly supported the provision of books with diverse perspectives. The group is described as “a nonpartisan organization…committed to improving civic health and promoting civic harmony within Cy-Fair ISD,” according to its Facebook page.
In April, members delivered flowers and treats to district librarians to “counteract the vitriol” of people asking for the books to be removed, according to member Lesley Guilmart, who is also an instructional coach at Cy-Fair High School.
Cristina Mejia is a CFCA member and an elementary school parent. She said she believed library content should be age appropriate and found this to be true in CFISD.
“I know that everyone [or every librarian] going to have the same opinions on different things, but recognizing that they are the experts in the field, we can have different opinions, and that’s where we go through the process,” Mejia said.