Downers Grove, Illinois students protest to defend controversial LGBTQ book as school board hears outcry over content

After two comments opposed the presence of “Gender Queer” in a library in Downers Grove, a suburb of Chicago, residents and students appeared on monday night to voice their opinions on Maia Kobabe’s book.

Some attendees held up ‘No Porn’ signs and posters with illustrations from a coming-of-age memoir about gender and sexuality, while some students and parents spoke out in defense the book, saying that the book should be in the library – and that no one should be forced to read it.

“Gender Queer” has been a recent target of several politicians and community members. In the first day of this month, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott urges state school boards to remove books he described as “pornography” after at least two state lawmakers asked officials to investigate books in schools — including “Gender Queer.”

Downers Grove 12th grader Josiah Poynter says the book should be included in the school library because inclusion is so important for young people. “Inclusion provides the opportunity to thrive in a safe and comforting environment for those who feel unloved and excluded,” he told the Community High School District board meeting. 99.

Poynter says that while the book may raise questions that aren’t always pleasant, it’s important to understand the LGBTQ community’s experience.

He added that students were given books such as “Montana 1948”, which contained graphic rape scenes.

Junior Julia Hanson said that while parts of “Gender Queer” were uncomfortable to read, she expected it. “Nothing in this book is new to me,” she said.

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“We have been completely stripped of our chastity and a copy of the book in our library makes no difference to that,” Hanson said.

“After all, most kids have never seen a book from our library,” she added to the laughter of some in attendance.

Lauren Pierret, a 17-year-old senior, said she didn’t know about the book until last week.

“This is not forced on your child, but it does give kids who are interested in this story the choice to read it,” says Pierret. She also consulted other books at the library such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Angela’s Ashes” that cover sex scenes but have not faced similar criticism in the district.

“Why aren’t these books censored?” she asked. “Let’s not see the removal of ‘Gender Queer’ as gender censorship for our children. It’s homophobia.”

Jim Devlin, a resident calling for the book to be removed, said the pictures in the book had no educational purpose. “This is pornography, plain and simple. And it doesn’t belong in our school,” he said.

Resident Terry Newsome said that the book was a “completely unacceptable book of child pornography”.

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“What you are doing to our children in the name of politics is a crime,” he said, calling for greater focus on resources geared towards children’s education including reading, writing and math.

In response to public comments about “Gender Queer,” school district superintendent Hank Thiele said it met the criteria for library inclusion. “This is an optional book and is not part of any coursework or required reading,” he said in a statement.

As for the objections, Thiele told CNN that the book will remain in circulation “while we work through the process to determine if the title should remain in our library.”

Last month, “Gender Queer” was picked up by a Republican Texas lawmaker who called on the state’s Attorney General to investigate the list of LGBTQ books in schools to determine if the books expose students to sexually explicit content. lewd or not.

“This book deals with topics that are not appropriate for a school library and can even be criminally charged for showing minors engaging in sexual activities,” said Jeff Cason. in a statement in October.

In response to some LGBTQ books being censored, Kobabe told CNN, “I hope that all of this will really encourage librarians, parents and students who are against censorship. .”

Kobabe also expressed appreciation for the high school students who attended board meetings to support the book and become politically active.

Some school districts in Texas, such as the Canutillo Independent School District, have temporarily removed the book from school libraries while the book is being reviewed.


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