(New York, NY) — This week, Texas State Representative Matt Krause initiated an investigation of whether any of the books on a list of 850 titles are available to students in Texas school districts. Krause sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency asking that districts reveal whether they have any of the books, how many copies they have, and how much money was spent on acquiring them. The titles under investigation mainly address topics of race, sexuality, and gender, and come at a time when books addressing these issues are being challenged in schools across Texas.

“This investigation is menacing and wrongheaded—it is an affront to the basic ideas of public education and risks trampling on students’ rights to access information,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America. “While the intent of the investigation goes unsaid, in singling out books about race and gender, Krause’s actions stand to send a chill across teaching and learning in the state, and come at a time when such educational conversations are already under significant threat. Unfortunately, Krause is following a trend of elected officials weaponizing censorship and antagonizing educators and librarians for political gain. It goes without saying that this discriminatory witch hunt should be dropped.”