Most Texans want ‘content ratings’ on school library books and diverse classes, poll finds

According to a new University of Houston poll, a majority of Texans want “content ratings” — similar to those used for movies — on books sold in public schools to help make Houston’s According to the university’s new poll.

The battle over library books began in late 2021 and continues to gain steam. Conservatives express outrage at the idea that schools have books with sexual content, while free speech advocates worry that restricting books may limit children’s access to diverse stories.

Texans are often open to the idea of ​​ranking.

A University of Houston poll — which surveyed 1,200 adults online in January — found that 71% of respondents support requiring book publishers to include a content rating of whether a title is for young children or adults. Suitable for students.

“Of course, the devil is always in the details of who determines the content rating,” said Mark Jones, a Rice University professor who authored the poll’s report.

Already, Texas lawmakers want to tighten school library standards.

Rep. Jared Patterson, a Republican from Frisco, passed legislation that he says aims to rid school libraries of explicit books and require retailers to classify titles that contain sexual content. Rep. A bill by Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, would prohibit a publisher from selling a book in a public school unless the content is rated as age-appropriate.

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Such efforts to rank books were quickly condemned by free speech advocates who closely monitor books by Texas, especially those that focus on LGBTQ stories and central black characters. .

Books by women, people of color, LGBTQ authors researched by Texas legislators. They ask: ‘Really?’

“A rating system like the one proposed in this bill would concentrate unprecedented power in the hands of government officials so that all students and families can read, learn, and share — in ways that are profoundly undemocratic.” are,” officials with PEN America. , a nonprofit organization focused on free speech, wrote in a statement.

A university poll found that nine out of 10 Republicans favored the idea, compared to nearly half of Democrats.

The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Support was strongest — nearly 80% — among Texans with a young child.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of Texans support legislation that would require every school district to offer ethnic studies — including Mexican American or African American studies — as a required curriculum. Texas school districts are currently able to offer these courses as electives.

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The show of support comes after the State Board of Education delayed further updates to the social studies curriculum and additional ethnic studies courses amid a conservative backlash.

A North Texas course on Native American history, Culture is about combating stereotypes

Also in January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration banned a new African American Studies Advanced Placement class from being taught in the state’s high schools.

Requiring such courses is favored by 90% of Democrats, and about four in 10 Republicans. Black and Latino Texans offer stronger support — 86% and 79%, respectively — than more than half of white respondents.

Meanwhile, Texans are divided over whether they support removing university faculty of their era if they teach critical race theory.

That view — held by 48% of respondents overall — is more popular among Republicans than Democrats.

What is critical theory of race? Behind the idea of ​​influencing Texas school elections

Critical race theory – or CRT – is an academic framework that investigates how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism, such as in education, housing or criminal justice. Conservative scholars often dismiss it as divisive while conflating it with diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racist training and multicultural curricula.

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Lt. Gov. Don Patrick has made finishing work for the new faculty a priority for this legislative session. He also wants to have a one-year review in which tenure can be revoked if good cause is determined.

“I will not stand by and allow Marxist UT professors to poison the minds of young students with critical race theory,” he tweeted last year. “We banned it in publicly funded K-12, and we will ban it in publicly funded higher ed.”

The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation about education issues pressing for the future of North Texas.

The DMN Teaching Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative with support from Bobby and Lottie Lyle, The Texas Community Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Daddy Rose, Garrett and Cecelia Bowen, The Meadows Foundation, The Muriel Foundation , solutions. Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Sidney Smith Hicks and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News Education Lab maintains full editorial control over journalism.


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