Correction: This article was updated to clarify the method Katy ISD is using to evaluate newly-purchased books and books previously placed under review.

After months of public outcry over the banning of beloved children’s books, Katy ISD has revised its library policy by altering a phrase in the description of what would cause a book to be removed from library shelves.

Katy citizens addressed the board Sept. 25 in public comments regarding book banning and championed district librarians, saying they are highly trained professionals with advanced degrees whom the board and the district should better support.

In response, board members voted 7-0 to remove the words “implied nudity” from the language of the board policy revision approved July 31.

“The only change [to the July 31 revision] is to provide more specificity as to nudity, and we have deleted the term “implied nudity.” This will make the policy more clear. The goal of this board continues to be to protect children from sexually explicit material, obscene material and harmful material,” Board President Victor Perez said.

Books frequently mentioned in public comment that were removed under the revised library policy included Eric Carle's "Draw Me a Star," Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," Dr. Seuss’ “Wacky Wednesday” and Robert Munsch’s “The Paper Bag Princess.”

What happened

The board’s revision of library policy specific to elementary schools states the following:

“No materials in elementary school libraries shall contain: 1) visual or visually implied depictions of sexual acts or simulations of such acts, 2) explicit written descriptions of sexual acts, 3) non-explicit written descriptions of sexual acts, except for purposes of teaching students (as may be approved by parents) to avoid and report molestation, or 4) visual depictions of nudity or implied nudity.”

Board members including Dawn Champagne and Rebecca Fox said that they hoped the revision would eliminate confusion over what the board was trying to accomplish with its policy revisions regarding library texts.

“This change provides more clarity for district staff to assist them in the implementation of these policies. The amendment is meant to clarify one simple clause, and as I've said before, the board's intent was never to remove well-known cartoon-like children's books just because they showed a little drawing of a little boy's rear end,” Perez said.

Diving in deeper

Contrary to the July policy, the revision does not give the power to remove books from school libraries, but allows them to be referred to the board for review, according to Champagne. Other updates on district library book policy are as follows:
  • Books that were held in a district warehouse for review were back in schools by August and are currently being cataloged through an online system.
  • Newly purchased books are being evaluated via a centralized online process that the district has in place under the new guidelines.
  • Any donated books must be reviewed under the same guidelines as purchased books.