Ever since 2021, Mary Elizabeth Castle says parents have been coming to Texas Values with examples of "very explicit" library books, and her organization has made it a priority to counteract the issue legislatively.
They began by attending and testifying at interim hearings in the summer 2022 and then worked with Senator Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) on SB 13 and Representative Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) on House Bill 900 to keep those sexually explicit books out of the libraries.
The latter, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott (R) last month, will take effect on the first of September, prohibiting "the possession, acquisition, and purchase of harmful library material that is sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar, or educationally unsuitable."
Books that are "sexually explicit" will be removed from school libraries, and students wanting a book with "sexually relevant" material must have parental permission before checking it out of the school library. Private booksellers will also be required to rate books on appropriateness.
In response, Austin's BookPeople and West Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop, along with the American Booksellers Association, have filed a lawsuit, claiming HB 900 violates the First and 14th Amendments by regulating speech with "vague and overbroad" terms and robbing "parents, schools, and teachers from across the state of Texas of the right to make decisions for their respective communities and classrooms."
Gov. Abbott, however, says the legislation empowers parents.
Those being sued are Mike Morath, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Martha Wong of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and Kevin Ellis with the Texas State Board of Education.
"It's really not a surprise that we're seeing a lawsuit against HB 900," Castle tells AFN. "Every session, when we pass good, family-focused legislation that protects children or protects family values, we always see these leftist organizations sue against our laws."
But she is not worried. In fact, Castle, who also provided testimony for Sen. Paxton's SB 13 in a hearing, encourages lawmakers in other states to pass similar legislation.
"We are seeing this across the country, where these sexually explicit books are becoming, unfortunately, household names. So, we know that this is a phenomenon across the country," the conservative laments. "You always have to be aware of different organizations filing lawsuits; that is just kind of how our legal system is set up. But you do not have to be so afraid of passing these laws, because a lot of these lawsuits will fall by the wayside, and we'll actually see a good result."
She adds that there are "good judges" in every state who will uphold these types of laws.