Some in attendance held up signs saying “No porn” and posters with graphic illustrations from the coming-of-age memoirs about gender and sexuality, while several students and parents spoke in defense of the book and said it should be available. in the library — and that no one was forced to read it.
Downers Grove student Josiah Poynter, an 18-year-old senior, said the book should be included in the school library because inclusion is important for young people. “Inclusion provides an opportunity to grow in a safe environment and provides comfort to those who feel unloved and excluded,” he told the 99 Community High School District board meeting.
Poynter said that while the book may raise questions that may not always be comfortable, it is important to understand the experiences of the LGBTQ community.
He added that students have been given books such as “Montana 1948,” which have graphic rape scenes.
Junior Julia Hanson said that while parts of “Gender Queer” were uncomfortable to read, she expected it. “Nothing in this book was new to me,” she said.
“We’ve already been completely robbed of our innocence and one copy of the book in our library won’t make a difference,” Hanson said.
“After all, most kids have never borrowed a book from our library,” she added, laughing at some in attendance.
Lauren Pierret, a 17-year-old senior, said she only learned about the book last week.
“This isn’t forced on your kids, but it gives kids who are interested in this story a choice to read it,” Pierret said. She also referenced other books in the library, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Angela’s Ashes,” which contain sex scenes but don’t receive the same criticism in the neighborhood.
“Why aren’t these books censored?” she asked. “Let’s not present getting rid of ‘Gender Queer’ as censoring our children from sex. It’s homophobia.”
Jim Devlin, a resident who called for the book’s removal, said the photos in the book had no educational purpose. “This is pornography, plain and simple. And it doesn’t belong in our schools,” he said.
Resident Terry Newsome said the book was a “child pornography sketchbook” that was totally unacceptable.
“What you are doing to our children in the name of politics is criminal,” he said, calling for greater focus on resources for children’s education, including reading, writing and math.
Ahead of the public comments about “Gender Queer,” district superintendent Hank Thiele said it meets the criteria for inclusion in the library. “This is an optional book and is not part of a course or required reading,” he said in a statement.
As for the objections, Thiele told CNN the book would remain in circulation “as we go through the process of determining whether the title should remain in our libraries.”
Last month, “Gender Queer” was singled out by a Texas Republican legislator who called on the state’s attorney general to examine a list of LGBTQ books in schools to determine whether the books allow students access to pornography.
Commenting on the censorship of certain LGBTQ books, Kobabe told CNN, “I hope all of this will really encourage librarians, parents and students who are against censorship.”
Kobab also expressed his appreciation for high school students who attended board meetings in support of the book and became politically active.
Some Texas school districts, such as the Canutillo Independent School District, have temporarily removed the book from school libraries while the book is being reviewed.