League City Council approves ordinance to restrict minor access to certain books, residents threaten to sue

The League City council voted 5-3 for an ordinance that will ban the use of tax dollars to purchase or stock selected books in the League City Library.

In December, Mayor Pro Temp Andy Mann and Councilman Justin Hicks added a resolution that proposes books that contain obscenity, including rape, gender ideology, pedophilia, and or incest, be removed from the Young Adults section of the Helen Hall Library.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: League City Council votes to restrict minor access to certain books, some residents call it discrimination

The ordinance was read for the first time on Feb. 14 - a result of the Dec. 6 resolution. The council then voted in favor of creating a Community Standard Review Committee - it would consist of three mayor and council-appointed members, three members from the local library board, and a board chair acting as a tie-breaker, if necessary.  

Council chambers have been packed each time this item was on the agenda. 

In December, some residents for the ordinance fear their children are in danger of being exposed to material that is too mature for them. On Tuesday, those against the measure tell FOX 26 they believe decisions on books should be left to the librarians. 

"We feel that it's violating our First Amendment rights and that this is big government," says Katherine Swanson of the Galveston County Library Alliance. "It should be up to parents and children to choose what they want their child to read, and we shouldn't have people dictating what can and cannot be read and where it should and should not be."

Council Member Chad Tressler, who voted against the measure with Tom Crews and John Bowen, believes it will ultimately cost the taxpayers more.

"You're probably going to have to buy more copies every time the book is challenged. You can't really review a book without reading it," says Tressler.  

Tom Crews proposed an amendment that a super-majority vote is needed from the committee, a total of six people, to ban the book under review. That amendment passed 7-1. With the ordinance now passed, the committee will begin its application process, which could take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. 

Texas Attorney Chloe Kempf of the American Civil Liberties Union shared the following statement: 

"We are extremely concerned that League City Council voted to establish a new committee with the power to restrict its citizens' access to library books. The First Amendment commands that the government may not remove books from library shelves simply because it dislikes the ideas contained in those books. But the City's new policies open the door to the government doing just that. We will be closely monitoring the establishment of the committee and any book-banning decisions it makes."