Texas School Trustee Caught Sneaking Into Library to Ban Book


A school board trustee in Granbury, Texas, has been accused of breaking into the high school library to remove books that she deemed inappropriate for students. Karen Lowery, who was elected in November 2022 after campaigning against “obscene” books, was caught by an assistant principal in the darkened library on Aug. 2, 2023.

A Crusade Against LGBTQ Books

Lowery has been on a crusade against books that deal with sexual orientation and gender identity, especially those that target queer students. In May 2022, she filed a criminal complaint against the librarians, alleging that they were illegally harboring obscene books. She was joined by another woman, Carolyn Reeves, who later accompanied her to the library break-in.

Texas School Trustee Caught Sneaking Into Library to Ban Books
Texas School Trustee Caught Sneaking Into Library to Ban Books

The complaint prompted an investigation by Constable Chad Jordan, who reportedly urged all law enforcement officers to join the far-right extremist Oath Keepers group. Jordan sent deputies to the library to seize books that Lowery and Reeves had flagged as objectionable. The investigation is still ongoing.

Some of the books that Lowery and Reeves wanted to ban include:

  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, a collection of interviews with transgender and nonbinary teens.
  • Drama, a graphic novel about a middle school theater production that features a gay character.
  • Lily and Dunkin, a novel about a transgender girl and a bipolar boy who become friends.
  • George, a novel about a transgender girl who wants to play Charlotte in a school production of Charlotte’s Web.

A Federal Investigation and a Public Outcry

Lowery’s actions have sparked a federal investigation and a public outcry. The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights notified Granbury school officials on Dec. 6, 2022, that it had opened an investigation following a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. The ACLU accused the district of violating Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The ACLU complaint was based on an investigation published in March 2022 by NBC News, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune that revealed that Granbury’s superintendent, Jeremy Glenn, had instructed librarians to remove LGBTQ-themed books in January 2022. Glenn was secretly recorded saying that he had no issues with what people want to believe, but there was no place for it in the libraries.

The investigation also exposed Glenn’s ties to Jordan and his involvement in the criminal complaint. Glenn resigned from his position in June 2022 amid the controversy.

The removal of LGBTQ books from Granbury libraries has also sparked protests from students, parents, teachers, and librarians. Some have organized book drives, petitions, rallies, and social media campaigns to support the librarians and demand the return of the books. Others have criticized Lowery and Reeves for their censorship and intolerance.

A National Trend of Book Banning

Granbury is not the only place where books are being challenged or banned for their LGBTQ content. Across the country, conservative groups and politicians have been targeting books that they consider inappropriate or harmful for children. Some of the reasons they cite include:

  • Promoting a “radical” or “leftist” agenda
  • Indoctrinating children with “gender ideology”
  • Exposing children to sexual or violent content
  • Undermining parental authority or religious values

Some of the tactics they use include:

  • Filing complaints or lawsuits against schools or libraries
  • Introducing bills or resolutions to restrict or ban certain books
  • Pressuring or threatening school officials or librarians
  • Replacing books with Bibles or other religious texts

According to the American Library Association, there were 156 challenges to library materials in 2021, up from 377 in 2020. Of those challenges, 70% involved LGBTQ content. Some of the most frequently challenged books include:

  • Gender Queer: A Memoir, a graphic novel about a nonbinary person’s journey of self-discovery.
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue, a memoir about growing up as a Black queer man.
  • Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, a picture book about a police shooting of a Black man.
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a book that explores the history and impact of racism in America.

The ALA and other organizations have condemned the attempts to ban books as violations of intellectual freedom and human rights. They have also urged librarians, educators, parents, and students to stand up for their right to read and access diverse and inclusive books.


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