Humble ISD trustees will consider expanding the language of its guidelines regarding the selection of books in campus libraries at an upcoming board meeting.

More than half a dozen parents have voiced their concerns about the contents of some books available in HISD campus libraries during the board’s August and September meetings, citing what they deemed sexually explicit and vulgar material.

Tracy Shannon, a Humble resident who is spearheading the effort to see the books removed, said she has been in direct contact with around 20 parents who have book concerns.

“We don’t think that everyone is going to agree with us on every book, and there are some books that might be ones where there’s some room for compromise, ... but some of them are so pervasively vulgar and so sexually inappropriate for minors that they shouldn’t be in schools at all,” Shannon said.

The board had the opportunity to approve guidelines at its Sept. 13 meeting that stated “Library materials shall not include ‘harmful material’ as defined by Penal Code 43.24(a)(2).” However, Trustee Robert Scarfo suggested adding the state’s definition of harmful material.

The Texas Penal Code states “harmful material, when taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity or excretion; is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors; and is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.”

“I just think that says even more than what we’re saying here, and I think that makes it very clear of how the district feels about that,” Scarfo said, noting he would also like to see portions of the guidelines relating to parental consent expanded.

Board members ultimately tabled the guidelines to give district employees, including library staff members, a chance to review the proposals.

HISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said the district has a review process in place to determine what books are available in libraries.

“Making a decision to remove something for every single high school student is a decision that no one takes lightly, but we want to make sure every family feels secure and safe in what their children are doing and what they’re reading,” Fagen said.

Fagen also said the district has put measures in place to restrict access to books deemed inappropriate for certain age groups.

“We have taken books and put them behind the counter that now require proactive parent permission for that child to even look at the book,” Fagen said, noting parents can review the books their children have checked out using the district’s Home Access Center.

District officials also noted there is a reconsideration process available that allows parents to request certain books be restricted based on age or removed entirely from campus libraries.••At the Aug. 9 meeting, HISD parent Meagan Fast said she had begun the process to have one of about 40 books removed from the Kingwood High School library.

“I read the book front to back. I met with a committee, [and] they decided to keep the book on the shelf,” Fast said.

Fast said she appealed the decision, noting officials ultimately decided to remove the book from shelves and make it accessible only with written parental consent.