By Guy Page
A controversial school library book portraying graphic sexual scenes is in circulation at the Essex High School library.
“Gender Queer: A Memoir,” a 2014 graphic novel by Maia Kobabe, (2014) has become an issue in the growing national conflict between parents and school boards. On Oct. 26, an Orange County, Florida parent was removed from a school board meeting by police after he refused to stop reading sexually explicit passages of the book out loud during a school board meeting.
As a result of the incident, however, the Orange County school board ordered the books removed from the library shelves, pending review.
“Gender Queer” essentially is a primer for youth on sexual identity, masturbation, gay pornography (individual and group), sexting and performing gay sexual acts.
An Essex parent emailed photos of the copy of the book to Vermont Daily Chronicle. The photos show the book physically on the library shelves and also its very sexually explicit drawings and language. None of the sexually explicit drawings are republished here out of regard for readers’ sensibilities and concern about being accused of publishing pornography.
The Essex High School library website does not include any discussion on how books are selected. Vermonters interested in learning more about the school library book selection process, and whether “Gender Queer” is available in their school district’s library, may contact school libraries directly, or contact their school districts.
On the state level, a law passed by the Vermont Legislature in May, 2021 established a Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont. School libraries are included in its purview, and school librarians are included on the committee. One of its many tasks is to “study the size and diversity of library holdings and assess the strengths and gaps in materials available to Vermonters.”