LLANO, Texas — In a growing number of communities across America, conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender and other subjects they deem inappropriate.
Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana and Louisiana, have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
In early November, an email from a citizen dropped into the inbox of County Judge Ron Cunningham, the head of the governing body of Llano County in Texas’ Hill Country. The subject line read “Pornographic Filth at the Llano Public Libraries.”
“It came to my attention a few weeks ago that pornographic filth has been discovered at the Llano library,” wrote Bonnie Wallace, a 54-year-old local church volunteer. “I’m not advocating for any book to be censored but to be RELOCATED to the ADULT section. … It is the only way I can think of to prohibit censorship of books I do agree with, mainly the Bible, if more radicals come to town and want to use the fact that we censored these books against us.”
Wallace had attached an Excel spreadsheet of about 60 books she found objectionable, including those about transgender teens, sex education and race. The list included such notable works as “Between the World and Me” by author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, an exploration of the country’s history written as a letter to his adolescent son. Not long after the email, the county’s chief librarian sent the list to Suzette Baker, head of one of the library’s three branches.
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