Letter to Region One Superintendents Concerning Book Banning Efforts in Region One Schools

David Bowles
3 min readJun 4, 2024

I emailed the following letter to all superintendents in the Region One educational service zone of South Texas on June 3, 2024.

Good morning, superintendents:

While several of you already know me, let me introduce myself. I’m Dr. David Bowles, Coordinator of English Education at UTRGV. Teachers from the Valley who have been certified in the last eight years have been under my supervision and guidance during their studies. I am also the president of the Texas Institute of Letters, the premier organization of our state’s leading writers. As co-founder of the Latino literacy advocacy group Dignidad Literaria, I also serve on Congressman Joaquín Castro’s Latino Representation in Publishing Coalition, which acts as a conduit between publishers and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I am additionally a member of Authors Against Book Bans, an organization that aids libraries and schools in the fight against censorship.

Perhaps even more relevantly, I am an author and translator of books for children and teens, with over three dozen titles to my name, many of them — They Call Me Güero and My Two Border Towns, for example — centering life in South Texas, the region my family has called home for more than two centuries.

I’m writing you today out of concern for recent efforts by Harlingen pastor Luis Cabrera, alongside the organization Remnant Alliance. His insistence that Region One schools remove some six hundred titles from the shelves of library is not only a misreading of state statute, but also dangerous and anti-democratic. He would push your districts to censor literature that he and other adherents to a particular variety of Christianity deem unfit for young people. Why? Because they think our children have been perverted by schools using books that they do not approve.

It is my professional opinion as an educator, literacy advocate, and author that we must resist such religious interference as wrongheaded and frankly insulting to the educational professionals in our communities.

Teenagers are not children. They are young adults on the verge of independence, with the full gamut of human rights and autonomy over themselves in all but a few aspects of their lives. They are of the age of discernment, and their free will to choose what to read should not be hampered. The time for their families and community to instill in them ethical values that will aid in that decision-making is when they are young. By the time they are in high school, we must trust them, not micro-manage their internal lives or attempt to curtail their liberty.

Furthermore, our children are not perverse. There is no perversity in respecting all identities: racial, ethnic, and religious; of gender or of orientation; disabled or abled, etc. Specifically, being LGBTQ+ is not a perversion, and those seeking to frame their fellow community members as evil because of their identities are themselves harmful and bigoted.

The real perversion in this case is for school districts to permit religious leaders from an extreme variety of Christianity to dictate policy and procedure for schools serving the wide range of students living in our communities. School districts are part of the educational system under the state and federal government. They must be kept separate from the demands of any church. It is a foundational principle of this nation.

Moreover, the teachers and librarians in your districts are experts. They have studied their fields deeply. They have challenged the state’s professional and subject area certification exams and have proven themselves ready. The leaders of your district interviewed and hired them. Your HR departments ensured they met all requirements. Those individuals are whom you should trust in this divisive moment.

Now is the time for courageous leadership on all our parts. Special interest groups do not have the skills, knowledge, or neutrality to make the right decisions for students in your schools. Your team does. I urge you to rely on them and to advocate with your board of trustees for a similar show of trust in actual educators and experts.

Should you need any support, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Dr. David Bowles
English Education Coordinator, UTRGV
President, Texas Institute of Letters



David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. President of the Texas Institute of Letters.