Texas Residents Are Suing Their County After Books Were Removed From Public Libraries

Texas Residents Are Suing Their County After Books Were Removed From Public Libraries

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(CNN)Seven residents in Llano County, Texas, are suing county officials, claiming their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when books deemed inappropriate by some people in the community and Republican lawmakers were removed from public libraries or access was restricted.

This county of 21,000 people in the Texas Hill Country is now part of the growing number of communities in the United States where conservative groups and individuals have pushed to control what titles people have access to and singled out books that deal with race, gender or sexuality.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in US District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, claims county officials removed books from the shelves of the three-branch public library system “because they disagree with the ideas within them” and terminated access to thousands of digital books because they could not ban two specific titles.

“Public libraries are not places of government indoctrination. They are not places where the people in power can dictate what their citizens are permitted to read about and learn. When government actors target public library books because they disagree with and intend to suppress the ideas contained within them, it jeopardizes the freedoms of everyone,” the lawsuit states.

Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, county commissioners Jerry Don Moss, Peter Jones, and Linda Raschke; library system director Amber Milum and four members of the Llano County library board, Bonnie Wallace, Rochelle Wells, Rhonda Schneider, and Gay Baskin, are named as co-defendants in the case. They did not respond to CNN requests for comment. Llano County commissioner Mike Sandoval, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, declined to comment.

In the lawsuit, Leila Green Little, a mother who lives in Llano County, and the other six plaintiffs argue that county officials removed several children’s books last August in response to complaints from a group of community members who described them as inappropriate. Those titles include “In the Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” by Robie H. Harris.

Months later, Texas Rep. Matt Krause launched an inquiry into whether 850 books on the subjects of race or sex that might “make students feel discomfort” were in public school libraries and classrooms. The lawsuit says Wallace eventually sent a spreadsheet with the books from that list that were available in Llano County library’s collection.

In an email to Cunningham and others, Wallace asked “all the pastors to get involved in this. Perhaps they can organize a weekly prayer vigil on this specific issue. … May God protect our children from this FILTH,” the suit alleges.

Some books in Wallace’s spreadsheet were removed from library shelves, including “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilke

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Texas residents are suing their county after books were removed from public libraries

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