'Gender Queer,' 'This Book is Gay' Stay on Shelves—with Labels—After Challenge at MA High School | Censorship Roundup

The two challenged titles will remain in the library, but will have content labels, at Waltham (MA) High School; school board members move books, require parental purchase at Scholastic Book Fair in Minnesota; and more in SLJ's latest look at censorship attempts across the country.


‘Gender Queer’ and ‘This Book is Gay’ Stay on Shelves

Two challenged books will remain available in the Waltham (MA) High School library, according to the Waltham News Tribune. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson were challenged by a resident earlier in February but will remain in the school after a reconsideration committee unanimously voted in favor of retaining the books.

While the books will stay, superintendent Brian Reagan said a sticker indicating explicit material will be added to Kobabe’s memoir, the current barcode on Gender Queer will be relocated to clearly show the book’s subtitle, and the school library will purchase the most recent edition of This Book is Gay, which includes a content label, the report said.

Books moved behind register at Scholastic Book Fair

Two school board members in Hastings, MN, were accused of removing books labeled as containing “mature content” from the Hastings Middle School book fair, according to fox9.com.

The two women—who said they were acting as concerned parents, not board members—placed seven titles in a box next to the register, and would only allow purchase with a parent present, according to the Hastings Star Gazette.

At a school board meeting following the book fair, one of the women said she learned there was no process for vetting books at the book fair and she decided to move all of the titles with “mature content” labels and require a parent to purchase, an action that she did not consider censorship, according to the story.

Amid complaints, AR school board president supports library media specialists

At a February school board meeting in Bentonville, AK, a group of parents and community members read from books they considered explicit and demanded their removal from the high school library, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

The books were A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

One parent recommended the district create a book rating system and a parent organization to address book selection, according to the story, which said school board president Eric White spoke in support of the district’s media specialists, their professionalism, and qualifications for selecting books.

Legislation update

In legislation news: The Indiana state senate’s anti-Critical Race Theory bill, House Bill 1134, which would have banned several "divisive concepts" and given more power over curriculum and classroom activities to parents, was killed this week, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The bill would have limited what teachers could say in the classroom about race, sex, and religion. After several hours in a meeting of the Republican caucus, the senate president pro tempore said he didn’t have the votes to move the legislation through.

In Utah, however, HB374, which “prohibits sensitive materials” in public schools passed through committee. The bill makes an exception for health classes and it would apply to other library materials.

The bill states the state board of education would provide training for schools in selecting materials that do not qualify as sensitive materials.

The earlier version of the bill would have allowed parents to sue a school for $10,000 if materials violating the law were not removed and proposed banning anything with “actual or simulated sexual content,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Under the approved measure, there is no longer the lawsuit provision, and the state definition of porn was added as the guideline.

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