The Department of Education is gleefully preparing to bring down the hammer on schools where rationality still reigns. Last week, Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon of the department’s Office of Civil Rights said the office is “very eager” to cut funds from school districts that create a hostile environment for students.

This may sound good — hostile environments, after all, are bad — but let’s take a look at what Lhamon and her peers think constitutes a “hostile environment.” It’s actually pretty easy to create one; all your local school district must do is decide that a certain sexually explicit book is not appropriate for children. If you object to Gender Queer or This Book is Gay , voila! A hostile environment.

Lhamon is just devastated that it has come to this; federal coercion “is a tool that is in active use to my dismay,” she groused. And yet, something tells me she’s not that dismayed at all.

The great book-banning panic has given the Office of Civil Rights its trendiest mission in some time. When the president, Oprah, and Julia Roberts are all talking about book bans, now is certainly the time for bureaucrats’ favorite pastime: Doing something. Considering the office’s fear that it was to be shuttered during the Trump era, it feels a need to prove that there’s still a battle to fight somewhere.

In May, the Office for Civil Rights started by cracking down on a Georgia school district for having the nerve to pull sexually explicit materials from library shelves. Eight books had been removed from Forsyth County schools for being “obviously sexually explicit or pornographic,” according to the superintendent. The civil rights office argued this constituted a “hostile environment” and a potential violation of civil rights (the explicit titles happened to feature black and LGBT characters).

Now, the office is promising to expand its crusade. Threatening to pull funding from schools that cannot successfully participate in “negotiations” with the Education Department, Lhamon said, is a “terrific, very strong tool.

“We haven’t had to use it in the recent past because we haven’t seen book bans for some decades, but it’s very much in conversation now,” she added.

Lhamon neglects to mention not only that book ban estimates are grossly overstated — the Heritage Foundation’s Jay Greene dug into PEN America’s data and found that 74% of reportedly banned books were not banned at all — but also that they are largely driven by a proliferation of sexual material targeted at teenagers (and younger children).

On top of that, these so-called bans are occurring in a tiny minority of school districts. Greene writes, “According to [PEN America], bans were reported in only 1% of all school districts, with almost half of all ban claims confined to just three districts.”

It would seem that all this hand-wringing over civil rights violations is much ado about nothing. And it’s possible that the office’s response will be similarly toothless. The culmination of its investigation into Forsyth County schools, for example, was a lot of paperwork, including directives that the district produce a statement about its book screening process and provide students who felt “impacted by the environment surrounding the removal of books” with information on how to contact a civil rights coordinator.

The best-case scenario is that the Office of Civil Rights wastes taxpayer dollars on unnecessary red tape. The worst-case scenario is that it seeks to validate its existence by exerting even more control on local school districts, disregarding the voices of parents, and the needs of children, in the process.