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Virginia school district to remove controversial gender book

January 16, 2022 GMT

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — A school district in Virginia plans to pull copies of the controversial book, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” from its library shelves.

The Washington Post reports that Loudoun County school officials are citing color illustrations that were deemed inappropriate. The graphic 2019 novel, written by Maia Kobabe, is about a young person’s struggle with gender identity.

The book has sparked debate in school systems across the country, including in Fairfax County, where it was pulled, but then retained, in school libraries last year.

The Post reports that Loudoun County schools superintendent Scott Ziegler asked for a review of the book because of questions about its content.

A “committee recommended (on a split vote) to retain the book in the high school library collection (but) the superintendent decided to remove the book from circulation,” schools spokesman Wayde Byard said in a written communication.

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That decision was appealed. Byard said the School Board’s appeal committee voted 3-0 Thursday to uphold the superintendent’s decision.

Ziegler said in a statement: “I read every book that is submitted for my review in its entirety. I am not generally in favor of removing books from the library. I believe our students need to see themselves reflected in the literature available to them.”

“The pictorial depictions in this book ran counter to what is appropriate in school,” he wrote.

The book contains illustrations of sexual contact, masturbation and a sex toy.

“Sexual content is a large part of this book,” Ian Serotkin, vice chair of the county school board, wrote on Facebook after he voted to remove the book from library shelves. “It is not fleeting or brief.”

Last year, Kobabe told The Washington Post: “There are queer teens, I promise, in every single high school where this book is being challenged.”

People are “reacting because they know that they’re on the losing side of the culture war,” Kobabe said. “And this is sort of an angry effort because they know the tides are already turned against them. But it’s still going on. It can still hurt people.”