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Student News Site of Klein Forest High School

The Pinnacle

Student News Site of Klein Forest High School

The Pinnacle

House Bill 900 Requires Book Removal From Classrooms and Libraries

An+image+of+Melissa+Pepper%E2%80%99s+English+Three+classroom+library.
Emillie Siv
An image of Melissa Pepper’s English Three classroom library.

House Bill 900, known as the READER Act, was supposed to go into effect on Friday, Sept. 1. It requires school libraries and classrooms to remove books that are rated as “sexually explicit” or have references of suicide from their bookshelves. The law affects booksellers, librarians, teachers, and students. This bill has been placed on hold due to an injunction by a Texas judge. 

“I think that it goes against everything that school’s about,” senior Fariha Adil said. “School’s supposed to teach about how to grow up and live your life as a person. It’s like [the lawmakers] are trying to force things and constrain people’s freedom.”

The bill states that booksellers are required to rate their books before selling them to educators. Additionally, books with a “sexually explicit” rating will need to be taken off school bookshelves. Meanwhile, if students want to check out books with a “sexually relevant” rating, they will need parental permission. According to the Texas Tribune, supporters for the law think of it as a “child protection bill” and that these books should not be a “distraction from the educational goals we’ve set as a state.” 

“It has ideas that you can understand and it’s not promoting this, it’s about, this is something that is already happening and this is how you should deal with it in a healthy way,” Adil said. “It’s not something we can ignore, it’s something that we actually have to deal with.”

An image of a section of Mercy Fabian’s classroom library.

In a different article by the Texas Tribune, various parties such as librarians and parents, are concerned that books in the classroom won’t reflect that of the students’ reading them and hinder their learning and growth. They also expressed that books with sexuality may be rated “sexually explicit” or “sexually relevant” just because they deal with LGBTQ+ characters or themes. Senior Alex Benitez says that the law will need to be more specific on what counts as “sexually explicit” and how it does not want to promote queer characters.

“They’ll start saying that they’re ‘R’ rated only when it’s just two guys, two girls,” Benitez said. “I feel like for the kids that do use the library, it’s limiting to them. There’s things that helped me figure out things about myself through books and if the library is their main access to those books, it’s taking away from them which could lead to them struggling [and feeling] very lost about themselves.”

For some students, books are the source where they find comfort and escape where they can relate to the fictional characters. Benitez said that when books are taken away, “it would be like losing part of a community.”   

“As someone who has been through bad mental health, you feel less alone knowing somebody else has been through this even though they’re fictional,” Benitez said. “Having somebody else put it into words what you felt, it’s comforting. Through those books, I have found people and it has just made my life so much better.”

HB 900 affects not only the young readers of the generation but instructors as well. Classroom libraries are slowly decreasing as teachers pull books out to be reviewed and approved. Dual Credit U.S. History teacher Elise Rothfeld has yet to receive her history textbooks due to the administration’s review about whether they had any “sexually explicit” content or not. 

“When you teach an advanced history, that’s what you touch on,” Rothfeld said. “There’s a reading I normally do about Native American conquest and it mentioned the atrocities that the Spanish implemented and I do not even have [my students] read that because I didn’t want there to be any question about why we were reading it. I thought it may become controversial even though it’s historically accurate and mentioned the genocide of the Indigenous population.”

The removal of books is also affecting educators’ curriculums and lesson plans for their classes.

“I’m all about primary source documents and looking at the actual history,” Rothfeld said. “To me, when you take the primary source away and then all you do is interpret, well, interpretation could be biased. I’d rather have my students see it and then make their assessment.”
Both students and teachers have expressed discontent with HB 900. Rothfeld believes that this bill will impact the student body and education in the future. 

“Our job at school is to encourage free thinking,” Rothfeld said. “The whole purpose is that we’re all diverse, so when we [teachers] say, ‘you can’t read that,’ that’s not my right, that’s not the state’s right. It squashes individuality.” 

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About the Contributor
Emillie Siv, Newspaper EIC, Photographer
What’s good everyone, hi my name is Emillie Siv and I’m your newspaper editor-in-chief and social media coordinator! I also work with Yearbook. This year’s going to be my last year at KF so I'll commit myself to feature as many events and (you guys) as possible! Alongside the media staff, I’m the vice president of the Evergreens environmental club and historian for our National Honor Society. I'm also a part of the KF Chorale choir as an alto and Jazz Band as a guitarist. I love the fine arts such as music, art, dance, photography, literature, and more. Basically, I have too many interests. I love documenting memories; that’s why I’m here! If you like K-pop and a group called Seventeen, I “Adore U.” Be my friend. Anyways, thank you for appreciating our work! As the student media, we got you covered;). READ THE NEWSPAPER, BUY YOUR YEARBOOK. Have a good one! <3

Comments (22)

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  • D

    DanaSep 19, 2023 at 7:27 am

    Excellent points. So glad there is an injunction against it. If kids can’t read about people like themselves, the feel even more isolated. Sadly that will mean an increase in depression and everything that goes with it.

    Reply
  • D

    DLSep 18, 2023 at 11:52 am

    This was very cool to learn and a very important thing to discuss. Thanks.

    Reply
  • D

    Delia C.Sep 18, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Never liked how classrooms and libraries ban books that have the possibility to benefit others. I believe subjects may be sensitive topics however these books are needed for people who are lost and unsure of themselves and how to go about things.
    I really liked the article though. – Delia

    Reply
  • J

    J.SSep 18, 2023 at 11:48 am

    This is a great article and i’m glad it touches on this subject because this is an important issue schools are facing.

    Reply
  • J

    JosephSep 18, 2023 at 11:47 am

    There’s this one book I showed to my teacher and he didn’t know that it includes everything this article said should not be in a book at school. To simplify what I mean, it’s sexually explicit and has references to suicide. But don’t worry, I don’t have those thoughts.

    Reply
  • J

    johnSep 18, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Amazing article it educates us on the house bill 900

    Reply
  • F

    FrankySep 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

    This is a very important matter that I am glad I got to read. PS:Mrs.Sendejas is the best teacher for showing us this.

    Reply
  • L

    LEAHSep 18, 2023 at 11:41 am

    This is such an important issue to touch on

    Reply
  • J

    JadeSep 18, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Great article, also a great eye opener I believe when R. believes that this bill will impact the student body and education in the future.

    Reply
  • K

    KelltSep 18, 2023 at 9:26 am

    I really enjoyed reading this type of article and it is something that should be bough up more often

    Reply
  • N

    n.dSep 18, 2023 at 9:25 am

    They should not be doubting the books and kids based off what they read

    Reply
  • S

    SkyeSep 18, 2023 at 9:24 am

    This article is great going towards not only the people in charge of this but also others so people can learn books are deeper than just words they actually have an impact and when you are limiting the kids choices, you are limiting their mindset.

    Reply
  • T

    TMSep 18, 2023 at 9:24 am

    This is a good article because kids should not be able to read sexually explicit books unless they are a certain age and have parental permission. Suicidal books should be taken off the shelf we are trying to help them not commit suicide and encourage them.

    Reply
  • H

    HeavenSep 18, 2023 at 9:23 am

    This article is nicely written. I hate that they are trying to take books down because of little things like queer representation.

    Reply
  • H

    HWSep 18, 2023 at 9:22 am

    I like this article I think it’s an important issue I hope that the bill is not passed so we have the freedom to read what we want.

    Reply
  • B

    BryanSep 18, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Amazing article!! This is such an important issue to touch on, I’m glad that it has the attention it deserves and the attention it requieres for such an amazing article!

    Reply
  • T

    TysonSep 18, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Great Keep up the good work

    Reply
  • Y

    yefriSep 18, 2023 at 8:29 am

    The law affects booksellers, librarians, teachers, and students.

    Reply
  • F

    Fariha AdilSep 14, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    Amazing article!! This is such an important issue to touch on, I’m glad that it has the attention it deserves 🙂

    Reply
  • J

    JoanneSep 14, 2023 at 10:47 am

    awesome sauce

    Reply
    • C

      cpSep 18, 2023 at 11:48 am

      They should remove the books. It important that we get expose to this kind of stuff at are ages. The books can be helpful to use understanding certain stuff without asking anyone else we just look in the book.

      Reply
  • K

    Keera P.Sep 14, 2023 at 10:24 am

    So proud of you Emilie, this is incredibly insightful and I’m so glad you brought this to our attention! Absolutely amazing work!

    Reply