Parents Want Graphic Book With Sexual Imagery Removed From School Libraries — But Doing So Could Fail Students

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Maia Kobabe Gender Queer parents banning

High school libraries around the country are home to many instructional and educational resources that students can use to not only learn about in-school subjects but also learn about things outside of school — including themselves.

Recently, however, one of these books has come under fire for what some parents believe is too graphic and promotes pedophilia despite being about gender identity and exploring your sexuality.

Why do parents want to ban "Gender Queer"?

"Gender Queer: A Memoir" was written and released in 2019 by author Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, and was written to “chart eir journey of self-identity.”

The book talks about eir “mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.”

RELATED: How Many Genders Are There — And Why Does Talking About The Spectrum Of Identity Matter So Much?

The comic format of the graphic novel helps with relatability — allowing teens to read it and go “hey that’s just like me!” when they see characters getting into situations that they might have experienced in their own lives.

Unfortunately, that’s also why parents have a problem with it.

The themes in the book about exploring sexuality lead to some instances of sexual encounters — and in a graphic novel, that means these situations are illustrated in great detail.

There are several instances in which characters use crude language and perform sexual acts on others or even themselves, which parents argue is pornography — which shouldn’t be allowed in school — and that it promotes pedophilia.

“You’re talking about children – you’re going to expose them to pornographic material? You might as well put Playboy and Hustler in there,” said one speaker at a North Kingstown school committee meeting.

However, the banning of books in a school library is something that should be taken very seriously and is something that Superintendent Phil Auger emphasized at the same meeting.

“The book in question deals with mature questions of sexual identity, and there are students in our high school that are asking these questions,” he said. “As part of a public school population, LGBTQ youth have as much of a need and a right to have access to library resources to support their overall health and well-being.”

Auger raises an exceptional point about high schoolers asking these questions.

The book has over 230 pages of comics (few of which are actually explicit) and very mature themes that are essential for teenagers who are discovering themselves to understand.

American sex education is failing students.

Teenagers need these stories and sex education that really matters and not just the biological aspect of it all.

RELATED: What Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Does To Parents, Kids And Teen Pregnancy Rates

The United States is surprisingly lacking in comprehensive sex education and still teaches abstinence-only sex education in a lot of states.

As recently as 2019, sex education became mandated on a state level but it was up to the states to teach it however they wanted — meaning there is no standards for sex education.

Before that, 37 states required that abstinence education be taught, while 0 states required comprehensive sex educations — even though 58% of secondary school principals describe their sex education curriculum as comprehensive.

The result of these malpractices is that teenage pregnancies skyrocket because of a lack of sexual education and contraception awareness.

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STDs, the idea of consent, healthy sexual relationships — all things that should be taught, aren’t because of the taboo that the United States has placed on sex.

Not only that but: queerness, sexuality, sexual identities, core LGBT concepts that allow people to feel like themselves and not feel guilty for not molding to the status quo.

Teaching people that it’s okay to feel differently than the heteronormative agenda and that people who identify differently deserve rights and respect.

If parents are angry about these things, then they should focus their efforts on something that’s skewing kids’ minds even worse: porn.

In a 2008 University of New Hampshire survey, 93 percent of male college students and 62 percent of female students said they saw online porn before they were 18.

Teenagers still have developing minds, so when they watch internet pornography, their minds can easily be molded to believe that is what real sex is like.

This is further exacerbated by the lack of sex education. Teenagers go to porn in order to learn about sex because they can’t learn it in school.

If parents are so worried about their children consuming pornographic content, maybe they should push for better sexual education that depicts sex in a healthy and realistic way instead of worrying about Gender Queer — a coming-of-age book that helps LGBTQ youth discover themselves.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.