In his letter Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said “more immediate action is needed to protect Texas students” from inappropriate content. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Gov. Greg Abbott told the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday “to investigate any criminal activity” related to “the availability of pornography” in public schools, saying that the agency should “refer any instance being provided to minors under the age of 18 for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Abbott’s request comes two days after he asked the agency, along with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the State Board of Education, to develop statewide standards preventing “obscene content in Texas public schools.”

While those standards are developed, Abbott wrote to the TEA in his letter Wednesday, “more immediate action is needed to protect Texas students” against that inappropriate content, which he said is “a clear violation” of state law.

TEA officials could not be immediately reached. It was immediately unclear whether TEA has the ability to investigate criminal activity.

In Abbott’s directive earlier this week about statewide standards, he cited two memoirs about LGBTQ characters that include graphic images and descriptions of sex, including “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. The Keller Independent School District recently removed the book from one of its high school libraries after some parents raised concerns over the novel.

Kobabe’s book is about the author’s journey with gender identity, and at some points includes illustrations of oral sex and other sexual content, along with discussions related to pronouns, acceptance and hormone-blocking drugs.

Abbott also mentioned “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado, which the governor said in his letter earlier this week was recently removed from classrooms in the Leander Independent School District. That book is a memoir that examines an abusive relationship between two women.

This is a developing story; check back for more.

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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