A school district in Texas has issued apologies to parents after several books that were part of the reading curriculum were found to contain graphic sex scenes and other inappropriate content.
Leander Independent School District, which is located to the north of Austin, said it picked its reading materials last spring as part of a routine process of expanding its English Language Arts curriculum, adhering to new state standards. Under the redesigned standards, students are allowed to choose any book from a list to read and complete assignments on.
Parents of students say they were caught off guard by some of the available choices.
In its apology, Leander ISD stated that it made the mistake of relying on written reviews and recommendations for its book selection, instead of reviewing the books themselves. The school district says it is taking steps to remedy the situation.
Under the typical procedure, teachers would thoroughly review each book before offering them to students to perform their assignments on. Due to lockdown measures across the state, when teachers were forced to work from home, the school district chose not to purchase multiple copies of each book and mail them out to teachers. As a result, no one knew the contents of the recommended books.
“Some books containing passages not suitable for students made it through this flawed vetting process,” Leander ISD said. “We acknowledge this breakdown in the process and apologize for selecting inappropriate literature for the assigned students’ ages.”
The content of some of the books shocked parents, including a book called My Friend Dahmer which depicts a fictionalized version of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer as a teenager. In the book, Dahmer mutilates his victims and has sex with their corpses. In another book titled Out of Darkness, a group of male students plot to gang-rape a girl.
Another book called In the Dream House describes an abusive same-sex relationship with graphic sex scenes and BDSM themes.
In total, school officials have removed six titles from their reading club and have conscripted more than 70 parents, teachers and others to review the remaining 140 books.