Education, Family

Questions arise after controversial ‘Gender Queer’ book surfaces at Perry Hall High School library

NOTTINGHAM, MD—Community members are asking questions after a student at Perry Hall High School was recently able to check out a controversial book.

The White Marsh Cowenton Community Association reports that the student was able to check out a book from the school library entitled, “Gender Queer.”

The book has recently been the subject of controversy in neighboring Virginia, as the book is aimed specifically at young readers and contains explicit illustrations of adolescents performing various sex acts,

Some of the controversial images and depictions in the book can be viewed online here.

The Coordinator for Library Media in BCPS, Amanda Lanza, has confirmed to WMCCA that the book is available in two high school libraries…Perry Hall High School and Hereford High School.

“It’s vulgar, pornographic material, and that’s illegal in the hands of minors,” said Virginia parent Breanne Barnes, who spoke during public comment at a school board meeting in December, MSN reports.

Maia Kobabe, author of the book, is a cartoonist who identifies as queer, nonbinary, and asexual. Kobabe uses the pronouns e/em/eir and is a graduate of California College of the Arts. Amid the controversy, Kobabe maintains that “queer kids need queer stories.”

“Gender Queer” has been a topic of controversy in other states as well. In October, after a parent complained to school officials about the book’s presence in her child’s high school, Brevard County Public Schools, in Florida, pulled the text from its libraries and directed school staff to “ensure there are no other similar books in our libraries,” Superintendent Mark Mullins said in a statement.

Russell Bruhn, a spokesman for the district, told ABC News, “The content isn’t the problem. It’s the graphic images.” reached out to Baltimore County Public Schools for comment on the matter.

“Yes, the book you reference is available to students in the Perry Hall High School library,” said Charles Herndon with the BCPS Office of Communication. “The school system has a policy and rule…that governs how instructional materials, including library materials, are chosen. It also contains a form that any member of the public can use to ask BCPS to review a book or instructional item should there be a question or concern about the material.”

The BCPS “Selection of Instructional Materials” document can be viewed online here (PDF). The Superintendent’s “Evaluation and Selection of Instructional Materials” document can be viewed online here (PDF).

The form to request a “Citizen’s Review of Instructional Materials” can be found online here (PDF).

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