On Emma Straub's website, a write-up about her newly released children's book, Very Good Hats, notes that the "joyous and inventive read-aloud will inspire kids to see ordinary objects in a whole new way." Straub, the daughter of horror writer Peter Straub and author of such adult novels as Modern Lovers and The Vacationers, was supposed to bring that inspiration to kids in a Texas school district last week—but her visit was taken off the schedule due to what the district says was her use of profanity online. Chron.com reports that Straub had been set to head to kindergarten and first-grade classes at two elementary schools in the Katy Independent School District on Friday to read Very Many Hats, but the day before her visit, the district canceled the readings.
"It has been brought to our attention that this author has regularly used inappropriate and foul language on her social media platforms—specifically repeated use of the 'F' word," the district wrote in an email to staff and parents. "This type of language, as you know, does not align with our school and community's values." Anne Russey, a parent within the district who supported Straub's visit, found what she believed to be the offending tweet, embedded within an online complaint from another parent. "F--- guns, f--- people who care more about controlling women's bodies than protecting all of us from people with guns, f---! It's too much," Straub wrote in the May 24 post—which Russey notes also happened to be the same day as the Uvalde school shooting that left 21 dead.
Russey slammed the "unrelenting demands of parents who insist on restricting access and experiences for ALL students and not just their own," noting that offended parents could've simply opted their kids out of Straub's event. Straub thanked Russey online, noting that the only F-words she would've included in her presentation were "funny, feline, feelings." In a Jan. 14 blog post, Straub also wondered aloud if Katy ISD administrators had unearthed other things on her social media that may have rubbed them the wrong way, noting she'd held fundraisers for abortion rights and gun control, as well as featured "one of my sons in a dress." "I am very proud of all of those things," Straub wrote, adding that a Houston-area friend was able to arrange for her to visit another local school instead.
It's not the first time the Katy ISD has nixed an author visit. In October, it canceled an appearance by cartoonist and author Jerry Craft, as well as temporarily yanked his books from library shelves, after some parents complained his writings featured "critical race theory." After a review, his visit was put back on the calendar and his books reinstated. A Houston Chronicle investigation last summer found that the school district has removed or restricted 43 of the 104 books it's reviewed since 2018, or more than 40%—"making it one of the more restrictive districts in the state during that time frame," the paper notes. (Read more author stories.)