Authors and publishers move to court seeking reversal of a ban imposed on ‘sexually explicit’ by Texas

Authors and publishers move to court seeking reversal of a ban imposed on ‘sexually explicit’ by Texas


A coalition of booksellers, authors and publishers has sued Texas seeking to block a new state law that bans “sexually explicit” books from public schools.

The law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in May this year and is set to take effect in September, requires sellers to rate books based on their references to sex and empowers the Texas Education Agency to review those ratings. Vendors that do not participate will be barred from selling any books to Texas schools.

Any books rated explicit cannot be sold to public schools and must be recalled from libraries.

The law is one of several passed in Republican-controlled states seeking to restrict books that conservatives say contain age-inappropriate content on topics such as sex, LGBTQ issues and race. Critics argue the bans are too subjective and amount to politically driven censorship.

The new lawsuit, filed in Austin federal court on Tuesday, asserts that the legislation “compels plaintiffs to express the government’s views, even if they do not agree,” in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

The standards for what constitutes “explicit” material are also unconstitutionally vague, according to the complaint.

“As guided by history and US Supreme Court precedent, the government should not dictate what is allowed in the marketplace of ideas,” the lawsuit said.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott has said the Texas law protects children, declaring that it “gets that trash out of our schools” when he signed it in June. The Texas Education Agency and Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

In May, the writers’ group PEN America and others sued a Florida school district for banning books dealing with LGBTQ and race issues. Another lawsuit in Arkansas takes aim at a law that requires libraries and bookstores to segregate any material that could be “harmful” to minors in a separate area.

The American Library Association reported 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest figure since the organization began tracking such data more than 20 years ago.

  • A Reuters report
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