‘Gender Queer’ book sparks controversy in suburban Chicago high schools
ANTIOCH, Ill. – Public school parents in Antioch are outraged by a controversial book in two high school libraries.
“This author is an adult and she speaks to impressionable underage children. So that’s where our concern comes from,” mother Kate Gilman said.
The parents describe the book “Gender Queer” as pornographic. The District 117 School Board, which represents Antioch Community High School and Lakes Community High School, disagrees.
First, they sided with the parents and placed the book behind the loan desk and in a counselor’s office, according to the parents. But after public pressure from outsiders, the parents say the council has put the book back into circulation.
“They describe masturbation, oral sex, sex toys, having sex with someone after knowing them for 45 minutes and meeting them on a dating app,” Gilman said.
The book illustrates author Maia Kobabe’s gender journey and the eventual discovery that Kobabe is non-binary and asexual. It details his young life in comic book style.
“Telling women not to do pap smears because of the pain and to take opioids to get over the pain of a pap smear. You’re scaring 13 year olds who have no idea what it’s all about. is. Why this book in school?” said his mother Carmen Mereniuc.
“Gender Queer” tops the American Library Association’s list of most disputed books of 2021. The book is slated for re-release in May.
The district superintendent supported the release of the book, writing in part in a letter to parents: “The book is widely available to students through various other sources…in addition, it is available on loan…through the DHS Public Library. ‘Antioch.’
He says a school committee reviewed the book and deemed it appropriate.
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“This violates a number of Antioch state and village statutes regarding the presentation of obscene material to minors, but for some reason it’s about being inclusive and fair to certain communities,” said the parent Chris DiLullo.
The American Civil Liberties Union doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s a hard line for some parents because they worry about control,” said Edwin Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU. “I think you have to think about it in that context of allowing others to grow and mature and learn in the way that they think is appropriate and in the way that their family thinks it’s an appropriate thing. That’s not It’s not a decision that we leave to the vote.”
Meanwhile, the parents say they won’t put the problem aside.
“I wish I could find an alternative that was a real good resource for someone going through this,” Mereniuc said.
Parents, school officials and lawmakers in 11 states have raised issues with the book since it was published in 2019.