LEAGUE CITY, Texas — Some League City residents are angry that a book restriction proposal was passed by City Council on Tuesday night after hours of impassioned public comment and debate.
"It's a way to ban books without saying they're banning books," Saultczy Khobahlt Bleu said.
By a vote of 4-3, the City Council approved a measure that allows books and other library materials to be challenged if they contain what they describe as an “obscenity or other harmful content.”
However, it’s the broad language in the resolution that has some residents upset, particularly about the chance that books containing LGBTQ+ material could be restricted.
Some residents questioned why the city took up a measure that will restrict access to books at the city’s public library.
“If a young person has a question about anything in life, the safe and accurate place to get the information is not the internet -- it’s the library,” former English teacher and League City resident Monica Edwards said.
More than 63 speakers protested the resolution restricting books that are deemed obscene. One issue the group of taxpayers has is the section in the proposal that restricts books on gender ideology -- something they believe targets LGBTQ+ children.
"This resolution is evil and full of hatred," David Baca said.
The resolution called for books with a target audience of anyone under 18 to be restricted if they feature any of the following topics:
- Pedophilia and/or incest, rape and bondage including romanticizing of such topics.
- Books that discuss or depict any type of sex, nudity, sexual preference, or related topics where the intended audience is below the age of 10.
But it’s the topic of gender ideology and ideologue human sexuality that could get a book challenged that has opponents saying it’s an attempt to try and silence and remove LGBTQ+ people from public libraries.
The final vote did ultimately remove topics of gender ideology and idealogue human sexuality from the final resolution.
Council member Tommy Cones defended the resolution.
"I don't want to take out books about the gay community and I certainly don't want minors to pick up a book and start looking at some of these pictures that we were handed tonight," he said.
The measure calls for a committee to oversee the library board and establishes a procedure to challenge a book.
“The library has those policies. City Council is trying to do something that’s redundant and frankly, I think it’s insulting,” League City resident and former librarian Sharon Halprin said.
Folks like Khobahlt Bleu said the proposed restrictions are reliving the past. Khobahlt said she was assaulted while attending Clear Creek High School while standing up against bullies.
“I myself, I was thrown up against a brick wall and strangled and you could see every finger bruise on my neck just because I was different and protecting the gay guys,” Khobahlt Bleu said.
Many said it’s about seeing themselves in a book they choose. Such as current library board member Kyrsten Garcia, who was sexually assaulted as a child. She said she found her escape and understanding from books at the League City public library -- something that she couldn’t get at home.
“We see what happens when the government inserts itself into situations where people have rights and they should have the freedom to decide for themselves and for their children,” Garcia said.
League City Mayor Nick Long said the process is appropriate.
“In the end, this resolution will fix a lot of the issues. It will allow citizens to have their voices heard. It will ensure that no books or material is banned and put parents in charge of what their children are reading,” Long said.
Opponents said the targeted book restrictions on LGBTQ materials sets a dangerous precedent.
“They don’t want people like us to exist. If we could be wiped off the face of the earth, they will be happy and that starts will stuff like this,” Khobahlt Bleu said.