Controversy over 'Gender Queer' book hits Chicago-area schools

Tue. November 16, 2021 11:36 AM by Gerald Farinas

gender queer book controversy in downers grove, ill.

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Downers Grove parents say the book is pornography; advocates say they're taking it out of context because of anti-LGBTQ bias

A controversial LGBTQ-affirming book that has been reporting on for weeks has finally hit the Chicago-area.

Suburban Downers Grove parents called for the school board to pull the graphic novel Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe from their school libraries, calling it "pornography."

Supporters of the book and author say this isn't about pornography but rather it's about censorship of LGBTQ material, important to raising healthy young people.

It's "way too graphic," one parent told WGN-TV after the November 15 school board meeting.

There is objection by parents to depictions of oral sex and masturbation.

Community High School District 99 says parents are taking the book's sex education elements out of context, which are no different from  sex education content offered in general.

"The difference is this is geared toward LGBTQ people and they don't like it," a Downers Grove South High School sophomore told

Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) protested the state education superintendent and called for a state investigation after finding out the book was available in South Carolina school libraries.

Published in 2019, the book covers honest discussions about sex, sexual and gender identity, how the body changes as one grows up, and even masturbation as part of exploring and understanding one's self.

The Washington Post recently published an op-ed by Kobabe responding to the flurry of activity against her book.

"Removing or restricting queer books in libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who might not yet even know what terms to ask Google to find out more about their identities, bodies and health," she wrote.

Published as a graphic novel, the book retails for $17.99 on