"Gender Queer: A Memoir" 10 Pros & Cons

Pro 1

“‘If I’d had a book to read like this, specifically, when I was like a freshman in high school, it would have saved me years of questioning and confusion about my identity…’ – Maia Kobabe …

Though the book has been widely banned in schools, it has also unleashed an outpouring of praise and support from readers, said Kobabe. From July 2021 to Dec. 2022, the book was banned in 56 school districts, the most of any book, according to PEN America’s documentation.”

  • PEN America article, “Now The Most Challenged And Banned Book, Gender Queer Was Written To Give Teenagers The Guidance That Author Maia Kobabe Never Had,” pen.org, 5/3/2023

Con 1

“Sure enough, [Virginia mom Stacy] Langton was able to check out the two books she had seen other parents protest — ‘Lawn Boy’ by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe — at the Fairfax High School library.

‘Both of these books include pedophilia,’ Langton told the board. ‘Sex between men and boys … One book describes a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on an adult male. The other book has detailed illustrations of a man having sex with a boy.’”

  • Article by Breck Dumas “Virginia mom confronts school board over graphic sexual materials in school,” foxnews.com, 9/24/2021

Pro 2

“Do you feel the book Gender Queer: A Memoir has an appropriate place on the shelves of Essex High school’s library?

Yes, I do. I absolutely do. Gender Queer is an award winning book, and it’s received a multitude of positive reviews. In addition to that, it won the Alex Award, which is an award given to books that have a special appeal to young adult readers. I think that it represents a chunk of our community who has been historically misrepresented, and it’s my job as a librarian to make sure that our collection is well rounded, balanced, and includes diverse perspectives.”

  • Mrs. Von Nagy, the head librarian at Essex High School in Vermont, in an interview with Nina Ludwig in the article “‘Gender Queer’: A Librarian’s Perspective,” The Hive publication, ehshive.com, 6/26/2023

Con 2

“Director Tammy Fereshetian of Turner said she recognizes the value of the author’s unique perspective, but she doesn’t believe ‘Gender Queer’ is appropriate for children under 18 without parental guidance.

‘This world is made up of all kinds of people, and our job is to meet children exactly where they are,’ the retired educator said. ‘As an adult reading this book, it helps me to do this. However, I wouldn’t offer this to my own children. I would not, as a teacher, have made this an option because of the graphic images.’”

  • Maine School Administrative District 52 Director Tammy Fereshetian of Turner, in an article by Vanessa Paolella “Turner-based school board keeping ‘Gender Queer’ in high school library,” sunjournal.com, 1/27/2023

Pro 3

“‘While the committee expressed concerns regarding the sexual content contained in the book, they also recognized that the book contained educational value in that it provides students who may be struggling with their own gender identity with unique perspective and support,’ Farnsworth said.”

  • Interim Superintendent Steve Farnsworth, Hudson City School District, Ohio, in an article by Phil Keren “’Gender Queer’ is OK to remain on school library bookshelf, Hudson committee determines,” Akron Beacon Journal, beaconjournal.com, 3/5/2022

Con 3

“[Bow, New Hampshire, parent Michelle] Johnston, who has three children in Bow schools, said she challenged the book after her 16-year-old daughter brought it home and showed it to her. Her daughter did not like it, she said.

‘You can’t show (the images) on YouTube, you can’t show it on cable, but you can show it to children in our schools?’ she said.”

  • Article by Mark Hayward, “Bow High School rejects parental challenges to graphic novel with sex images,” The New Hampshire Union Leader, yahoo.com, 3/24/2023

Pro 4

“Books in schools can include sexual themes as long as the overall body of work has literary value. In a July hearing over [parent Miranda] Stovall’s appeal, JCPS’ [Jefferson County, Kentucky] director of media services Lynn Reynolds argued the book had literary value.

Reynolds also noted that ‘Gender Queer’ is one of just a few books centering on a nonbinary character. She, along with principals who refused to pull the book at Stovall’s request, felt the memoir and books with similar LGBTQ themes play an important role in creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ students.”

  • Article by Olivia Krauth “JCPS panel votes to keep ‘Gender Queer’ on library shelves,” courier-journal.com, 9/28/2022

Con 4

“Tim Anderson, a representative in Virginia’s General Assembly, wrote a post on his Facebook account this week saying he intends to file restraining orders against two Barnes & Noble booksellers in Virginia Beach.… Anderson told Bloomberg that the restraining order does not constitute a ‘ban on books.’

‘This is a request to determine if super sexually explicit material should be restricted from minors to view without parent consent,’ Anderson said.

He said the goal of his legal action ‘would be to restrict minors from having access to the sexually explicit materials until they first obtain parental consent. Identical to how we allow minors to watch R-rated movies in public theaters.’”

  • Tim Anderson, a representative in Virginia’s General Assembly, in an article by Ariel Zilber “GOP pols want Barnes & Noble to stop selling ‘Gender Queer’ book to kids,” nypost.com, 5/20/2022

Pro 5

“… [Judy] Blume shared a screenshot in which she praised Kobabe’s memoir [‘Gender Queer’].

‘It’s probably the No. 1 banned book in America right now. And I thought, ‘This young person is telling me how they came to be what they are today.’ And I learned a lot, and became even more empathetic,’ she said. ‘That’s what books are all about.’

  • Author Judy Blume in the article “Judy Blume clarifies support for trans people after J.K. Rowling comments,” by Anne Branigin, washingtonpost.com, 4/17/2023

Con 5

“Last year, the Harlem School District in Machesney Park banned “Gender Queer,” saying the graphic novel contains graphic illustrations of sexual acts, which some said are not appropriate for the age group, adding that if a student chooses to, they can get the book at the public library.”

  • MyStateline.com article “Illinois to defund school libraries who remove controversial books,” ilsos.gov, 3/8/2023

Pro 6

“‘While I understand and appreciate the concerns about the explicit sexual content that is in some pages of the book, to cherry pick that out of the many pages of the book I think does the book a disservice and I think our high school students are more than mature enough to handle this kind of content,’ she said.”

  • Board member Julia Routbort Baskin, Ballston Spa Central School District school board, New York, in an article by Shenandoah Briere “‘Gender Queer’ book to stay in Ballston Spa High School library,” dailygazette.com, 4/21/2023

Con 6

“Samantha Viscount, chapter lead for the Vista chapter of GAG [Gays Against Groomers], said that materials available in the district’s school libraries were ‘outrageous and dangerous.’ Honing in on ‘Gender Queer’ and another book titled “This Book is Gay,” Viscount said that the subjects discussed in the works are unsuitable for children.

‘These are extremely elaborate concepts,’ Viscount said. ‘Most adults struggle to understand these concepts in depth, let alone children.’”

  • Article by Tyler Faurot, “Poway Unified committee votes to keep two LGBTQ-themed books in libraries,” sandiegouniontribune.com, 2/14/2023

Pro 7

“‘One of the things I loved about this book is that it’s a great ‘window and mirror’ book, meaning people who are questioning their sexual identity and gender identity are going to view this book as a mirror, a reflective experience of their own, and this book is also a great ‘window’ for people who want to understand that perspective,’ [Alyx] Corcoran said in her TikTok video on ‘Gender Queer,’ adding that it is a ‘wonderful’ book.”

  • Alyx Corcoran, librarian at Lanphier High School in Springfield, Illinois, quoted in a Zachary Rogers article “Illinois school librarian promotes book ‘Gender Queer’ to students on TikTok,” wpde.com, 10/3/2022

Con 7

“Central Bucks School District [Pennsylvania] says that it will no longer stock ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘This Book is Gay’ in its school libraries, two of 65 books the board is reviewing for what it calls ‘sexualized’ content.”

  • Article by Beccah Hendrickson, “Central Bucks School District bans 2 books from libraries,” 6abc.com, 5/15/2023

Pro 8

“Begun as a way to explain to Kobabe’s family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is both a personal story—of adolescent crushes and coming out—and an illuminating exploration of gender”

  • New York Public Library “Trans and Nonbinary Reads for Adults” online page, nypl.org, accessed 7/1/2023

Con 8

“Parents should read the book to be aware of how their children are being indoctrinated into phony notions of gender fluidity. Ridiculous terms such as ‘assigned female at birth’ and ‘nonbinary’ have become normalized in our schools.”

  • Sherry Sylvester, distinguished senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in her article “Every parent should read Gender Queer,” washingtonexaminer.com, 4/28/2022

Pro 9

“‘The board voted not to ban the book because the general feeling is it’s a violation of the First Amendment,’ Board President David West said.”

  • Deckerville, Michigan, Library board President David West in article by McKenna Golat “Deckerville Library blocks attempted book ban,” thetimesherald.com, 5/2/2023

Con 9

“‘The NEA’s book list is steeped in ideology which isn’t surprising since they’ve become an organization focused on race and gender that pays zero attention to student outcomes or parents’ concerns,’ Erika Sanzi, Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Education (PDE), told Crisis in the Classroom (CITC). ‘I suspect many of their members will find Gender Queer to be completely inappropriate for a school setting.’”

  • Article by Kristina Watrobski “Teachers union recommends ‘Gender Queer’ to educators for summer reading,” okcfox.com, 6/29/2023

Pro 10

“Having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+, Martin Osterloh, a school board member, expressed his support for the book, emphasizing that he wished this type of literature was available to his relative during their formative years.

‘Bow should be a place of diversity, equity and inclusion,’ said Osterloh. ‘We find strength in diversity; we find strength in inclusion and we learn from one another.’”

  • Sruthi Gopalakrishnan, “Bow school board votes to keep controversial book ‘Gender Queer’ on library shelves,” concordmonitor.com, 4/15/2023

Con 10

“[Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor] rejects that this is ‘book banning’ and last week held a press conference in which he showed a video, including selected scenes from Gender Queer, saying ‘I just think parents, when they’re sending their kids to school, they should not have to worry about this garbage being in the school’ and that the only reason anyone is complaining against the removal of such books is if an educator is ‘putting your own agenda ahead of the wellbeing of the students. And that’s what we see too often.’”

  • Rich Johnston article “Ron DeSantis Names Gender Queer Graphic Novel In ‘Fact Sheet,’” bleedingcool.com, 3/16/2023