Texas Teacher Removes All YA-Rated Books From Middle School Classroom Amid Book Controversy

All books rated Young Adult were removed from a teacher's eight-grade classroom, with many speculating that it was done so out of fear of legal repercussion.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Texas is one of the top Republican states leading the drive to ban inappropriate-deemed books from school property. These book challenges are having sweeping effects on the classroom. So much so that one teacher took matters to the extreme and removed all young adult books from her classroom inside a Katy ISD middle school in Texas

The Houston Chronicle reports that an English teacher at McMeans Junior High School within Katy ISD removed all YA-rated books from her classroom’s personal library. Now all that is left — according to one eight grade student — is an offering of lower elementary-aged titles. The teacher couldn’t have removed the novels because of school policy, as it doesn’t ban her from removing all YA-labeled books.

Instead, Katy ISD suggests that teachers and librarians in the district put warning labels on books that rank in this category. This was suggested to them by the middle school’s principal, so that the teachers could alert parents if a student was reading a book labeled this way, in order to comply with Texas’ parental rights laws. Because of her decision, many were left upset that such few books are being offered to children in that class, however, the move wasn’t met with much surprise. 

The issue with removing all YA books from children’s access in Katy ISD  is that this rating system may be flawed. A spokesperson from the American Library Association (ALA) said that the determination for which books get slapped with this rating is chosen by individual publishers. Oftentimes, they can range from a wide array of audiences spanning from age 12 to 17.

But worst of all, many of the books may not have truly had any “mature” labeled content. The district asserted that they are not requiring any Katy ISD teachers to remove all young adult titles from schools. But given a recent proposal by the school board, many are now sure the teacher in question removed all these books out of fear. 

Last month, Katy ISD board members and trustees suggested a change to policy regarding books found in libraries. This policy would have also required teachers to monitor classroom titles. What’s more, Texas teachers’ unions have reportedly urged teachers to remove YA books from personal classroom libraries for their own legal protection.

Glenda Marcel, the president of the Fort Bend division of the American Federation of Teachers admitted to telling teachers to only keep select books in their classrooms. She added that they should be approved in writing by their school’s principal. While it is unknown whether or not this is what motivated the English teacher, there is a good chance that all of this scared her into simply removing all titles. 

Katy ISD

The last school year was unprecedented in terms of book banning, as the ALA reported receiving more challenged books than ever before. Yet some say that these reports are being overblown and over-exaggerated. Given the fact that the anonymous Katy ISD teacher has not spoken up about the matter, for now, all reports of why, and if, she truly removed so many books from her classroom remains speculative.