Jeff Cason, a Republican lawmaker in Texas, is trying to get the attorney general to investigate certain books that he thinks are “porn.” The books, which are mainly LGBTQ and written by minorities, have been attacked by conservative lawmakers for the last month as they try to get them removed from schools.

In a letter, Cason cited the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe as being one of those pornographic books. The book tells the story of a group of teens and 20-somethings as they deal with life and their growing anxieties over periods, first pap smears, oral sex and masturbation.

According to lawmaker Jeff Cason, this book and others, could violate the Texas Penal code and other decency laws. The lawmaker said that “we as a state must protect minors from this type of criminal activity and it should not be made available to children by actual people that are tasked in educating them and keeping them safe from harm.”

While Jeff Cason has asked for an investigation into Gender Queer and other books it is still unclear if the Texas district attorney will go forward with the request.

Texas lawmaker Jeff Cason is calling for certain LGBTQ books to be banned because he considers them to be "porn." (Credit: Shutterstock.com)
Texas lawmaker Jeff Cason is calling for certain LGBTQ books to be banned because he considers them to be “porn.” (Credit: Shutterstock.com)

Kobabe’s book has also been banned by other school districts in the Texas area. A district in Keller, Texas said that they removed the book after people complained that the piece of literature had inappropriate images in it. The district said that they didn’t want students to have access to these “porn” books

The book has also been banned by the Waukee Community School District in Iowa after a board member read sexual explicit passages during a school board meeting on October 25.

Gender Queer was published in 2019, but the author had only heard that her book was being challenged in September 2021. She said that there have been so many bans of the book across the country that she has lost count.

Maia Kobabe urges people to read the whole book and come to their own conclusions instead of going off tiny portions of the novel or what they see on social media. She wrote the book because she wanted a safe space for people to try to understand their changing world. Kobabe said that while we have the Internet and it’s web of information, it can be dangerous when it comes to learning about sexuality and gender.

“I know we have the internet, but the internet is absolutely rife with misinformation,” Kobabe said. “And I think there’s a danger if you Google some topics about queerness, that you will land on sites that either are misinformation or coming from a really negative point of view, or it will send you straight to pornography, unfortunately.”

This “witch hunt,” against books started in October when Texas state Rep. Matt Krause sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner of School Programs Lily Laux and asked her to help him compile information on 850 books that he considered to be pornography.

While Krause never mentioned the books, he did say that he wanted to know how many of these books were in Texas school libraries and how much money was spent on them. The list included books that talked about race, gender, sexuality, racism, reproductive rights, along with histories about Latino, Black and Native American populations.

In the letter, first reported by the Texas Tribune, the lawmaker also wanted any books that mentioned HIV, AIDs, or “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” to be identified.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom have seen an increase in challenges against LGBTQ and minority books in recent months. In September 2021 alone they saw a 60% increase in these types of challenges compared to previous years.

Tiffany Jewel, an author whose book was featured on Krause’s list, called the whole thing a “witch hunt.” She thinks that students should have access to this information and it would help to provide a safe space for their ideas and identities at school.

“Every child deserves to feel empowered to know who they are and to know their history. So often adults think that children and young folks aren’t ready to do this work or ready to hear about it, but the reality and truth is they’re more than ready because they see the world as it is and so much more clearly,” Jewell said.