By\u00a0Brian Lopez\r\nA Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or "make students feel discomfort."\r\nState Rep.\u00a0Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is "initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content," according to an\u00a0Oct. 25 letter\u00a0obtained by The Texas Tribune.\r\nKrause's letter provides a\u00a016-page list of about 850 book titles and asks the districts if they have these books, how many copies they have, and how much money they spent on the books.\r\nHis list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel \u201cThe Confessions of Nat Turner\u201d by William Styron and \u201cBetween the World and Me\u201d by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year's book club favorites: \u201cHood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot\u201d by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson's \u201cCaste: The Origins of Our Discontents.\u201d\r\nBut race is not the only thing on the committee chair\u2019s list. Other listed books Krause wants school districts to account for are about teen pregnancy, abortion, and homosexuality, including \u201cLGBT Families\u201d by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee, \u201cThe Letter Q: Queer Writers\u2019 Notes to their Younger Selves\u201d edited by Sarah Moon, and Michael J. Basso\u2019s \u201cThe Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today\u2019s Teens and Parents.\u201d\r\nKrause, a Fort Worth lawmaker and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, is\u00a0running for state attorney general\u00a0against\u00a0Ken Paxton. Krause declined to comment and no explanation was given as to how these books were chosen.\r\nKrause sent notice of the investigation to Lily Laux, the Texas Education Agency deputy commissioner of school programs, as well as some Texas school superintendents. His letter did not specify which school districts Krause was investigating.\r\nKrause informs districts they must provide the committee with the number of copies they have of each book, on what part of campus those books are located and how much money schools spent on the books, as well as information on any other book that violates\u00a0House Bill 3979, the so-called \u201ccritical race theory law\u201d designed to limit how race-related subjects are taught in public schools. Critical race theory, the idea that racism is embedded in legal systems and not limited to individuals is an academic discipline taught at the university level. But it has become a common phrase used by conservatives to include anything about race taught or discussed in public secondary schools.\r\nThe law states a teacher cannot \u201crequire or make part of a course\u201d a series of race-related concepts, including the ideas that \u201cone race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex\u201d or that someone is \u201cinherently racist, sexist, or oppressive\u201d based on their race or sex.\r\nSchool officials have until Nov. 12 to respond. It is unclear what will happen to the districts that have such books.\r\nThe letter did not give a specific reason that Krause was launching the investigation, only that \u201cthe committee may initiate inquiries concerning any \u2018matter the committee considers necessary for the information of the legislature or for the welfare and protection of state citizens.\u2019\u201d\r\nLake Travis Independent School District officials received the letter and are trying to figure out what the next steps are, a spokesperson said. Officials in that Austin-area school district are speaking with other school districts to figure out what this means for them. In nearby Round Rock Independent School District, the district spokesperson, Jenny Caputo, texted that it will "take significant staff time to gather the information to reply to this request." The district's legal team is still reviewing the request.\r\nState Rep.\u00a0Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, who is vice-chair of the committee, said she had no idea Krause was launching the investigation but believes it\u2019s a campaign tactic. She found out about the letter after a school in her district notified her.\r\n\u201cHis letter is reflective of the Republican Party's attempt to dilute the voice of people of color,\u201d she said.\r\nNeave said she doesn\u2019t know what Krause is trying to do but will investigate the motive and next steps.\r\nThe TEA and the rest of the Committee on General Investigating\u00a0members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.\r\nBrandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said it doesn\u2019t surprise him that Krause has taken initiative on a conservative item, especially since there is a crowded field in the Texas attorney general race.\r\n\u201cHe's not well known statewide, and so he needs to put down a pretty tall conservative flag to get notice,\u201d Rottinghaus said. \u201cAs a political statement, it certainly conveys the clear message that the Republicans are watching.\u201d\r\nRottinghaus said he doesn\u2019t recall a time in recent memory when legislatures have taken the role of investigating school districts.\r\n\u201cThe monitoring of this definitely is a political statement and so the fact that the legislature is attentive to it definitely implies that they're not going to drop the issue,\u201d he said.\r\nJim Walsh, an attorney who often represents school districts, pointed out there is nothing in the law that says books must be removed and Krause\u2019s investigation also doesn\u2019t call for books to be removed. For now, it\u2019s up to school districts to decide how they will respond, but what\u2019s certain is that it will add more workload to Texas schools that are already struggling from the effects of the pandemic.\r\nTexas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said in a statement that the investigation is a \u201cwitch hunt\u201d and that nothing in state law gives lawmakers the right to go after educators.\r\n\u201cThis is an obvious attack on diversity and an attempt to score political points at the expense of our children\u2019s education,\u201d she said.\r\nKrause\u2019s investigation comes after several school districts across the state removed books from libraries because of parental outcry.\r\nEarlier this month, the Carroll Independent School District board in Southlake reprimanded a fourth-grade teacher who had an anti-racist book in her classroom after a parent complained about it last year.\r\nThen, in a separate incident this month, a Carroll ISD administrator asked teachers to provide materials that presented an\u00a0\u201copposing\u201d perspective of the Holocaust in an effort to comply with HB 3979. The law, which comes with little to no guidance, has caused confusion and fear among teachers and administrators, who have seemingly misinterpreted the law.\r\nIn the Katy Independent School District, a school removed a book after parents claimed it promoted \u201ccritical race theory,\u201d which the district later found to be untrue and reinstated the book.\r\nThis story originally published by the Texas Tribune.