Parents from the Leander Independent and Round Rock Independent School Districts in Austin, TX, have had enough after a local educator and parent mocked them with a Dr. Suess-like poem at a recent Leander school board meeting. The poem, aimed at Evangelicals and parents concerned about pornographic reading material in their schools, called the parents ‘bigots’ and ‘kooks’.
The following video will play at the moment during the meeting when the poem is read:
Krista Tyler, a parent in the Leander School district, read the poem at the Dec. 16th Leander School Board meeting. Tyler formerly taught in the Round Rock district as an instructional technology specialist at Grisham Middle School. She made it clear in a statement to Fox News that she is not an employee of any district, though Round Rock’s online directory still lists her as an employee, along with her preferred pronouns “she/her.”
Tyler’s poem included this paragraph:
Everyone in Leander liked reading a lot/ But some evangelicals in Leander did not/ These kooks hated reading, the whole reading season/ Please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason/ It could be perhaps critical thinking causes fright/ It could be their heads aren’t screwed on just right/ But whatever the reason, their brains or their fright/ They can’t follow policy in plain black and white.
The poem continues by calling the parents ‘bigots’ and insinuates that parents are overreacting about the indoctrination of their children. In Tyler’s statement to Fox News, she says, “This was not an attack on Christianity,” though the poem begins with the label “Evangelicals.” This lumping of all concerned parents in one group did not sit well with many, and the reactions signal a clear frustration echoed by parents nationwide.
Kieu Trang, who has four children at all three levels of the Round Rock district, said, “She is trying to lump all parents who oppose pornographic books into the ‘evangelicals-bigots-brainless’ category that hates reading, but the fact of the matter is we are a group of very diverse, highly-concerned parents who do not want pornographic books in our schools. The fact that that statement came from a teacher who could be teaching my children at Round Rock ISD is very concerning…I might have opposing views, but I don’t call anyone on the opposing side ‘bigots’ or brainless. That is reprehensible and despicable. She shouldn’t be teaching.”
Dustin Clark, a father of four children attending Round Rock, said, “I’m disgusted and disheartened that there are teachers in our school district who think it is OK to mock parents for their religious beliefs, and for demanding that children not have access to books in the library or classroom that have pornographic illustrations and graphic descriptions of sex acts.”
Clark, arrested for speaking out at a school board meeting in September, mentioned two specific books known for objectionable material. Lawn Boy, by Johnathan Evison, includes lengthy, graphic depictions of a 10-year-old boy’s sexual experiences. Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, includes photographic depictions of sexual encounters between a boy and a man. These books have drawn heavy criticism from parents across the nation.
Tyler read the poem in response to Leander ISD pulling eleven books from book clubs and classroom library bookshelves after an advisory committee review. Parents from the district expressed concern over pornographic material being readily available to their children via school book clubs. Due to pandemic-related procedural changes in 2020, many books that wouldn’t have passed an in-person review by teachers, administrators, and librarians passed the loose filter of online reviews. This process allowed many books to fly under the radar even though they included highly inappropriate material.
The abundance of instances similar to Leander ISD’s has even caught the attention of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. In November, Abbott called on the Texas Education Agency to investigate criminal activity related to “the availability of pornography” in public schools. He also instructed the Agency to report these instances “for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.” Abbott made it clear that more action is needed to protect Texas Students.
Andy Hogue is a father with two children in the Leander ISD. He said, “It’s a shame that we even have to debate this. But we are grateful that 11 of the objectionable books were removed.” Hogue mentioned that the battle against certain ideologies propagated by teachers who seek to circumvent elected representatives continues to be an issue. The poem is a microcosm of what Hogue calls the “cluelessness we are up against.”
Hogue added, “This is not a matter of ‘banning books’ but one of community representation…And as long as we’re paying taxes to the LISD, we the people deserve to be heard.”