On June 12, 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill (HB) 900, a bill that will regulate the library materials sold to or included in public school libraries. HB 900 will have a major impact across Texas as school districts seek ways to be compliant and parents/guardians face new choices for the books their children are reading.
Regardless of individual political affiliation, this new law will make sweeping changes in schools, libraries, and districts. We are sharing this news because schools need solutions to achieve compliance, and BookmarkED is that solution.
BookmarkED emerged to help solve the burden that school districts face when it comes to challenged books and the desire to allow parents to have a choice in their children’s literary options.
HB 900’s purpose is to prohibit schools from purchasing books that are “sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar or educationally unsuitable.”
The “Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (“READER”) Act,” was first introduced on March 8, 2023, by Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, and Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.
HB 900 requires library material vendors to issue ratings regarding ‘Sexually Explicit’ and ‘Sexually Relevant’ material previously sold to a district or school. Library vendors may not sell to Texas schools if they do not issue these ratings.
By Aug. 1, 2023: The changes in law made by this Act to the Education Code, which includes the parental consent to access material rated as “sexually relevant,” apply beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.
By Jan. 1, 2024: The Texas State Library and Archives Commission shall adopt the standards for school library collection development.
By Apr. 1, 2024: Each library material vendor shall submit the initial list required under Section 35.002(c), Education Code.
By Sept. 1, 2024: Each library material vendor shall submit the initial updated list required under Section 35.002(d), Education Code.
By Jan. 1, 2025: Each school district and open-enrollment charter school shall review their content each odd-numbered year and submit a compliance report to the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”).
How Will This Impact School Districts?
The legislation sets new standards for school libraries to follow when incorporating new books into their collections.
For material that library vendors have rated as “Sexually Relevant,” school districts will be required to obtain parent or guardian consent prior to allowing students to reserve, check-out, or use this material outside the school library.
This will create new logistical challenges for school districts as they navigate the implementation of these standards. This includes adjusting their check-out process for students that want to borrow books that require parental consent.
How Will This Impact Parents and Guardians?
The law will impact parental/guardian control over which materials can be checked out by students.
The new standards for library collection development policies will recognize parents as the primary decision-makers in regard to their children's access to library material (Section 2(d)(2)(D)).
Further, this policy will recommend that "schools communicate effectively with parents regarding collection development" (Section 2(d)(2)(F)).
Finally, the law requires written parental consent for students to “reserve, check out, or otherwise use [materials rated as ‘Sexually Relevant’] outside the school library” (Section 35.005).
These new requirements to engage parents/guardians in the content their children are reading will require streamlined and efficient processes in order to be successful.
Where BookmarkED Comes In
As school districts navigate this new law, BookmarkED is here to help.
We are the solution that empowers parents and schools to guide children's literary options, fostering an enriching and individualized reading experience.
Our industry-first technology will be essential to meeting this new set of requirements for schools. BookmarkED bridges the gap between education and parental rights, creating personalized library experiences, and ensuring all-round compliance with new state laws. More specifically, a school district can use our platform to individualize their child’s reading experience based on their family’s established parameters. This helps streamline the district book review process by allowing parents and guardians to make choices about their child’s literary options instead of needing to challenge books at a district level. On a state-wide level, BookmarkED provides real-time data for when a book is challenged, keeping schools up to date.