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Appeals court panel rules against Texas restrictions on 'sexually explicit' books in public schools

Sexual materials in school libraries has become a flashpoint in the culture wars, with conservative states such as Texas and Florida moving to restrict the inclusion of sexual materials in school libraries, or curricula, as is the case in the Sunshine State. 

Published: January 17, 2024 5:16pm

A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday unanimously ruled against Texas law banning "sexually explicit" books in public schools on First Amendment grounds.

U.S. Circuit Judge Don Willett, a Trump appointee, wrote flatly that "[t]he question presented is narrow: Are Plaintiffs likely to succeed on their claims that READER violates their First Amendment rights? Controlling precedent suggests the answer is yes," according to The Hill. "Because Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, the State and the public won’t be injured by an injunction of a statute that likely violates the First Amendment."

At issue was the Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources Act (READER), which requires booksellers to include sexual content ratings on materials intended for libraries. A coalition of bookstores, publishers, authors, and trade groups brought the suit.

Sexually explicit materials in school libraries has become a flashpoint in the culture wars, with conservative states such as Texas and Florida moving to restrict the inclusion of such material in school libraries, or curricula, as is the case in the Sunshine State. 

Florida's Parental Rights in Education law, for instance, restricts the discussion of gender and sexual topics in public schools and has faced its own legal challenges.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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