Student Heckled By Parents At Meeting Over Gender Queer Graphic Novel

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.  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.

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

Education Week gives more details over the decision by the Keller Independent School District in North Texas, previously covered on Bleeding Cool, has now passed a policy removing books about gender fluidity from library shelves. The policy, passed four to three by the board, bans any library book that includes or mentions a transgender or non-binary person, including fictional lor historical figures, as well a  books that mention transgender and non-binary orientations exist. But that the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and several LGBTQ advocacy organizations have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's office of civil rights stating that the district is violating new laws by discriminating on the basis of sex, specifically against transgender and nonbinary students. As according to an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in March, all students must be assured an educational environment devoid of "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." Previously, the district temporarily banned at least 41 books, including Gender Queer: A Memoir, by Maia Kobabe, as well as Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl and the Bible. Anne Frank's book and the Bible have returned to libraries, but Gender Queer, and others remain banned.

The Tri-Town Against Racism Book Club is to discuss the graphic novel memoir, Gender Queer, stating that "in response to community debate on whether or not certain books should be available in our school libraries, Tri-Town Against Racism is hosting a book club to discuss one of the books that has been the subject of controversy. The meeting is on Thursday, December 15 at 7 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House Community Hall, 103 Marion Road, Mattapoisett. All are welcome. Registration is required."

The Altoona Mirror reports that Hollidaysburg Area High School senior Madeline Shanafelt was heckled by parents at a school meeting, held after a junior high teacher caused controversy for reading the Gender Queer graphic novel to herself in her classroom, and for a teacher previously having a gay pride flag on their table. Shanafelt wanted to speak out against a proposed amendment maintaining adult/student boundaries, that would ban "initiating conversations with students, whether in public or private, on gender identity, asking students for their preferred pronoun usage or sexual orientation" and that "if a student initiates such discussion, the student shall be referred to the appropriate school resource." She told the Mirror "I wanted to because I feel very sad that the school I have gone to since kindergarten is starting to push through ignorant policies that promote hatred and don't promote inclusivity". She told the board that "there was no reason a teacher shouldn't be allowed to ask students for their preferred pronouns in an effort to make students who felt uncomfortable sharing their preference more comfortable" and that "This question is not going to ruin your child's innocence" but received heckles saying "yes it is" amongst raised voices, she told the Mirror that she broke down in tears and was unable to continue her comments. "I really didn't think I was going to be heckled. The first meeting I went to, a lot of people were getting heckled, but I'm a student, so I really didn't think a group of adults would heckle me." Her mother, Colleen said, "One of the friends who reached out to me said I have to remind myself that the loudest people aren't always in the majority. I made sure I told Maddy that, too." And indeed, the proposed change was voted down by the board, 5-4. Previously the Mirror had run an editorial calling for the book to be banned in schools.

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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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