Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers

Facing pressure from parents and threats of criminal charges, some districts have ignored policies meant to prevent censorship. Librarians and students are pushing back.

School libraries in Texas have become battlegrounds in an unprecedented campaign by parents and conservative politicians to ban books dealing with race, sexuality and gender. (Matt Williams for NBC News)

KATY, Texas – From a secluded spot in her high school library, a 17-year-old girl spoke softly into her cellphone, worried that someone might overhear her say the things she’d hidden from her parents for years. They don’t know she’s queer, the student told a reporter, and given their past comments about homosexuality’s being a sin, she’s long feared they would learn her secret if they saw what she reads in the library.

That space, with its endless rows of books about characters from all sorts of backgrounds, has been her “safe haven,” she said — one of the few places where she feels completely free to be herself.

But books, including one of her recent favorites, have been vanishing from the shelves of Katy Independent School District libraries the past few months. Read the full story here.

For more on this story, watch NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.