Eight More Gender Queer Graphic Novel Stories Across America

Bleeding Cool has been running many articles about recent news coverage about the graphic novel Gender Queer: A Graphic Memoir by Maia Kobabe as a new edition has come out from Oni Press.

Initially marketed toward older audiences, winning an American Library Association Award in 2020 for "books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18" saw copies of Gender Queer ordered by school libraries and public libraries across the USA, while political campaigns have found it an easy touch for "what about the children" style rabble-rousing. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's current Interim Director, Jeff Trexler stated that challenges to this comic had become a hot talking point in local politics and were being weaponised for political gain. He told ICV2; "I mentioned the parent in Virginia who went viral after talking about this. Then, that became the heart of the Youngkin campaign. One could say that the protest of Gender Queer became the hub or the foundation of a movement that ended up getting the Republican Governor of Virginia elected". Since then, obscenity lawsuits against Oni Press and Maia Kobabe have been filed by lawyer Republican Virginia assembly delegate Tim Anderson on behalf of himself and Republican congressional candidate Tommy Altman citing an obscure state obscenity law, though were recently dismissed.

We mentioned how it got rather heated at one school meeting yesterday. But there are many attempts across the country to get the book banned in one place or another. And news stories and coverage of these attempts keep rolling on.

1. Pastor Claims The Plus In LGBTQ+ Is "For the Paedophiles"

The Courier-Gazette of Union, Maine revisiting reports of residents voicing opposition to the book being in the high school library during an RSU 40 Board of Directors meeting, and that the board will determine if the book will be removed following a citizen's appeal of the 2021 decision to keep it in the library. And that pastor Mike Kee of Union stated that the plus sign in the LGBTQ+ community was "for the paedophiles" and supporting one part of that community meant supporting paedophiles as well and that voting in favour of Gender Queer'sinclusion would be voting in favor of paedophiles. While another resident Mike Thayer asked, "does this board condone having pictures of a sexual felony in their library?" The Penobscot Bay Pilot reported that senior pupils at the Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Maine, were circulating a petition ahead of the vote to keep Gender Queer on the library shelf. With Senior Sage Cunningham who was planning to attend the meeting, saying "after reading the book and coming to a conclusion that I do not think this book should be banned, I decided to create this petition. Every person who signs has agreed that this book should be kept in the MVHS library because any book that is worth banning is a book worth reading… I do not think this book should be banned; banning this book will erase a story that a transgender student such as myself could relate to." It shouldn't be necessary but probably is, to note that thethe LGBTQIA community as a whole does not support nor condone paedophilia, nor any act that is non-consensual.

2. A Lot of Students Don't Know About This Yet

The Standard-Times reports from Mattapoisett, Massachusetts that "Several books are under review to be banned from Old Rochester Regional High School and junior high libraries after complaints were filed about them, Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Michael Nelson has confirmed." And naturally, that includes Gender Queer. 17-year-old ORRHS junior Alia Cusolito is quoted as saying  "I don't think a lot of students know about this yet, but some of us have heard about it. My friends and other people in the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) club at school are all affected by this."

3. Taking Out Everything In A Library's Pride Month Display

Sauk Valley News reports from Dixon, Illinois, that the Dixon Library Board is standing by the director's decision to reject requests to remove two LGBTQ comic books from shelves. Gender Queer, of course, but also the lesbian comic book Patience and Esther: An Edwardian Romance. They state that Gender Queer "likely would have been moved to the adult section with an informal complaint, but the issue became complicated when the library received a form letter from the conservative nonprofit CatholicVote Hide the Pride group signed by a dozen families wanting to remove LGBTQ content from the library, specifically the library's Pride Month display, as well as 16 requests to ban both books for reasons including "sin," "vulgarity" and "lesbianism,"  so that removing the books on those considerations would not only violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause against discrimination but also would violate library standards on ethics." And that three Dixon library patrons subsequently checked out the maximum number of books allowed, 20, all LGBTQ materials.

4. A Letter Home

Wood TV reports from Ottawa County that a "group of parents is upset after the Spring Lake Public Schools superintendent sent a letter home Friday that explained the district's decision to keep a book dealing with gender and sexuality in the high school's library." Yup, it's Gender Queer. "Some Spring Lake parents say some of the images and content is too sexual and graphic in nature for high school-aged students." Back in May, "the district's Material Review Committee looked at the book in question and found 'the book served a greater interest (combating isolation, affirming a child's reality) than restricting access or removing the book altogether'" and quoted the superintendent saying "in 15 years (since the policy was instituted) we've never had a book complaint made in Spring Lake. So we never had to utilize this particular policy."

5. When Required Reading, Isn't

Sant Barbara Free Press reports that Thomas Cole, founder of 805Analytics held a press conference at the Montecito Inn stating "we are against school grooming of students with explicit sexual material depicting minors engaged in sex, which is what is in the book that we're talking about." The newspaper pointed out that the book didn't depict minors in that fashion but "Cole stated that regardless of the age of those depicted, such material should not be made available to minors" and that "Cole also alleged that concerned parents of students at Dos Pueblos High School and Santa Barbara High School reached out to him saying that Gender Queer was listed as "required reading" in their students' classes." However, Nick Masuda, of the Santa Barbara Unified School District, told them that Gender Queer was not included in any lists of either required or recommended reading in the district.

6. Facebook Groomer Threats

Tthe MSAD 6 School Board of Buxton, Maine, already voted 10 to 1 against the removal of the book.  New Centre Maine has the video of the meeting, prior to which, they report that a "handful of community members said they faced harassment regarding their support of keeping the book." And quoted father Kris Carver, whose wife had received threats over her support for Gender Queer, where Facebook messages detailing her name were added to a list of "groomers" and was advised to stay home from the meeting. "At this point, we're going to have to start standing up and not allow ourselves to be taken backwards when we're trying to go forwards. It's all getting to dangerous levels."

7. Making A Display

Marin Independent Journal reports that Gender Queer "will be celebrated with an exhibit at Dominican University" at the Joseph R. Fink Science Center Gallery until the end of March next year.

8. 30 Students In Need

Elon News Network reports an Alamance-Burlington School System Board of Education meeting to discuss Gender Queer and its place on school shelves, which saw the book described by attendees as pornographic and paedophilia, but also as helpful and a resource. And came after Superintendent Dain Butler pulled the graphic novel from the Western Alamance High School library earlier this month. Western Alamance High School librarian Tim Johnson who ordered the book for the library stated that at least 30 students at the school were trying to understand their nontraditional gender identities. However, Mayme Brooks, who attended the meeting as a former parent and a member of the FACTS Task Force 2.0, stated "these books sexualize every child in this room tonight. And every child who reads them" while Board of Education candidate Lenard Harrison agreed and planned to ban more books at the school. 2021 graduate of the school Andrew Jordan, who identifies as transgender and bisexual, also spoke at the meeting, about reading the book in senior year and, realising "Oh, there is people like me. And this is a normal thing. I'm not weird or a freak." After reading books in high school classes that sexualized heterosexual relationships, even though there weren't pictures in those books, Andree said the imagery the words depicted were just as sexualized as the pictures in Gender Queer. "Why is that allowed but not a memoir? Taking that away was totally discriminatory.

Expect more, many many more. Gender Queer is published by Oni Press.

Cover image for Gender Queer: A Memoir Deluxe Edition
Gender Queer: A Memoir Deluxe Edition Preview Image

In Gender Queer, Maia Kobabe has crafted an intensely cathartic autobiography about eir path to identifying as nonbinary and asexual, and coming out to eir family and society. By addressing questions about gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—the story also doubles as a much-needed, useful, and touching guide.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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