Texas Librarian Pushes Back Against Book Bans with Lawsuit Against County Authorities

Source: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman

A librarian is suing a Texas county because she was fired for refusing to take out books centered on race and LGBTQ+. The complainant, Suzette Baker is a native of Texas. She was the head librarian at the Kingsland Public Library in Llano County, around 65 miles away from Austin.

She is suing the county, the county Commissioners Court, County Judge Ron Cunningham, and some community activists who were chosen to be on the Library Advisory Board during a push for book removals.

Book Bans Unfairly Targeting Minority Groups

She’s of the opinion that her sack unfairly targets minority groups through book bans. In her opinion, the action goes against her rights and that of others under the First Amendment.

Source: Wikimedia/Umbe11

She seeks back pay and wants her legal fees covered. She also wants an injunction ordering the county to stop behavior that discriminates against minorities and limits people’s freedom to speak.

Suzette Baker’s Passion For Reading

Baker once served in the military and is a mother of five children, all adults. She was a librarian with over ten years of experience before joining the Kingsland Public Library. She loved her job and thought of it as her life’s purpose.

Source: Twitter/aVoice4MA6

Now, at 57 years old, she works as a cashier at a local hardware store to make ends meet. “Reading helps you understand others and be more compassionate,” Baker once said in a phone interview.

Book Bans Spark National Debate

The lawsuit puts literature censorship in some rural areas, like Llano County in the spotlight. This recent event comes in spite of a 2023 federal court ruling that ordered the return of books removed from the county’s library shelves. It is the latest legal battle over which books kids can read in public libraries.

Source: Twitter/scarlett4kids

Since 2021, there’s been a rise in attempts to ban books in the United States. Last year, these challenges reached a record high, according to the American Library Association and PEN America.

Controversy Surrounds “Inappropriate” Books

In Llano County, the conflict over library books started in the summer of 2021. Some community members asked for specific titles to be taken off the shelves. They claimed that the books were “inappropriate” for children and teens.

Source: Twitter/dmuth

A community member, Bonnie Wallace, sent a list of about 60 books he wanted removed to the Llano County Library Director. The books had content showing sexual activity and nudity. The library director told Baker to take the books off the shelves, but Baker refused.

Opposing Race And LGBTQ+ Representation In Books

The group kept pushing to remove books about race or LGBTQ+ topics. The books included some meant for children like “Gender Queer” or “I Broke My Butt.” Others were award-winning adult nonfiction books, including “They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”

Source: Twitter/ajplus

In January 2022, the Commissioners Court, Cunningham, and Commissioner Jerry Don Moss voted to disband the county’s library advisory board. After which, 12 new members were appointed. The new members were part of the community group pushing for book removals, the lawsuit says.

Library Display Defies Book Bans

Milum, the library director, told librarians they couldn’t go to public meetings, even when they weren’t working. The lawsuit argues this stopped Baker from exercising her First Amendment rights.

Source: Twitter/PublishersWkly

In March 2022, Baker set up a display in the library with books that had been banned in the past. They included “How to be an Anti-Racist,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “Between the World and Me,” along with some from the group’s list.

Putting The ‘Lit’ In Literature

She also put up a sign outside the library that said “We put the ‘lit’ in literature”. The lawsuit describes the act as a play on words. The use of the word ‘lit’ referred to both its slang meaning and the historical burning of books.

Source: Youtube/KXAN

Milum asked Baker to take the books off the display. Not long after, she fired Baker according to the lawsuit. She cited “insubordination,” “failure to follow instructions” and “allowing personal opinions to interfere with job duties and procedures” among the reasons Baker was fired.

Book Bans Threaten Access To Information

Recent events have sparked national attention and criticism from advocates. Their argument is that book bans infringe on students’ rights and constitutional freedoms.

Source: Youtube/KXAN

Iris Halpern once represented a Colorado librarian in a successful lawsuit for wrongful termination in a similar situation. He said the county’s actions show a disregard for residents’ access to information.

Book Censorship Debates Rage On

“This is extremely concerning because it appears the main goal here is to restrict people’s access to information, plain and simple,” Halpern said. “There’s no effort to ensure we have a healthy democracy and open communication, or to create spaces for learning and debate.”

Source: Twitter/dmuth

Teachers and librarians have faced scrutiny over book censorship debates. In 2023, some received threats or criticism for defending access to these materials.

School Assignment Causes Unexpected Response

At Chapin High School in South Carolina, students claimed they felt “ashamed to be Caucasian” after a teacher assigned Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” to read. The school removed the book from the curriculum and put a formal reprimand in the teacher’s file.

Source: Reddit

At Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District in Texas, a teacher was removed from an eighth-grade classroom for letting students read an adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” that included sexual content. The district said the book wasn’t approved for the class.

Defendant Denies Involvement In Librarian’s Firing

Moss, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, stated that the Commissioners Court doesn’t decide whether librarians are hired or fired, and he wasn’t involved in or aware of the decision regarding Ms. Baker.


“I found out about Ms. Baker’s termination through Facebook,” he said during a phone call with the Statesman.

Commissioners Unaware of Book Removals

Moss clarified that the Commissioners Court never voted to remove books. He also mentioned that they weren’t aware of any books being removed and hadn’t seen any of the 17 books listed in the lawsuit until they received the legal papers.

Source: Twitter/FReadomFighters

The lawsuit claims that Milum removed books based on their content, which goes against the library system’s policies for removing books that haven’t been checked out for a while, are in bad condition, or are outdated. Moss added that the commissioners weren’t involved in the book removal process.

What do you think?

200 Points
Upvote Downvote
Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Elon Musk’s Tesla Plant Suffers Almost $1 Billion In Damages After Attack By Eco-Terrorists

‘Jacuzzi Bubbling With Almost Pure Hydrogen’ Discovered Researchers – A Lucrative Source Of Clean Energy