The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a complaint against the Keller ISD for unlawful sex discrimination in violation of Title IX.

In a Nov. 21 email, the organization is urging the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the district over a policy that remove library books that contain a number of topics that the board voted 4-2 in favor of changing in August. The guidelines listing 14 different categories is now used to judge whether a district library book is age appropriate and adheres to the new policies. Among the categories are profanity, descriptions or illustrations of nude intimate body parts, sexually explicit conduct or sexual abuse, kissing, tobacco use by minors, violence, horror, and drug or alcohol use by adults. The policy requires each category to be rated as minimal, some, common or prevalent.

During the most recent board of trustees meeting on Nov. 14, the board voted 4-2 to add books that discuss gender identity to the previously approved ban. In September, the board approved a change to board policy EFB which gives the trustees final approval of all material purchased for the school libraries.

“Keller ISD has been on our radar for quite a long time,” ACLU of Texas staff attorney Kate Huddleston said. “We sent a demand letter in August for their removal of LBGTQ+ books. We put out a fact sheet (last week) on why the new policy was unlawful and as soon as it passed we knew we needed to act and call for a federal intervention.”

Attempts to contact KISD for comment on the allegations leveled by the ACLU were unsuccessful. The district is on fall break from Nov. 21-25.

The gender identity subject was one of two topics discussed at the recent board meeting that had nearly two hours of public comment. The other topic is the board of trustees looking at possibly arming teachers, which will be looked at further at the Dec. 12 meeting.

The ACLU filed complaints against the Granbury ISD in February for a book ban and against the Frisco ISD on Nov. 21 for a restroom-usage policy.

“This is a situation in which we are continuing to explore options in districts throughout North Texas,” Huddleston said. “We are very concerned about what is going on in North Texas. It has happened in more places within Texas but North Texas is the epicenter of it in a lot of ways.”

The ACLU alleges the KISD board of trustees has created a ‘pervasively hostile atmosphere for LGBTQ+ students’ and ‘tries to erase the existence of transgender and non-binary individuals.’

Huddleston stated there is precedent when it comes to banning books from libraries based on the ideas they contain, pointing to The Board of Education, Island Tree Union Free School District v. Pico, a case that went to the Supreme Court in 1982.

“(Keller ISD) action is unlawful and it should be obvious that the policy is unlawful and should be swiftly overturned,” Huddleston said. “It shouldn’t require intervention. I think it is really a point where legal intervention and federal intervention is necessary to ensure they comply with the law. We will not be holding our breath for the district to reverse themselves. It is really essential that the federal government investigates and intervene to stop sex discrimination in these districts."