by Tom Gantert
The graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe was the most challenged book of 2022, according to an annual list of the most controversial books as assessed by the American Library Association.
The list was published Monday during the start of National Library Week. The American Library Association said 2022 was a record year for books “targeted for censorship.” There were 2,571 unique titles challenged, of which 58 percent were in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula.
For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools purchased four books on the list.
Those books were Gender Queer (high school library), The Bluest Eye (grades 6-12), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (grades 6-12), and Looking for Alaska (grades 6–12).
The Center Square reached out to the district for comment via email; no reply was received before publication of this story.
Gender Queer is a book schools around the country have purchased for their libraries in 2022, according to data from public information requests – using the Freedom of Information Act – sent to numerous districts by The Center Square.
The American Library Association reported that Gender Queer was challenged over “LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit.”
The Iowa Standard has published images of the graphic novel’s illustrations. Those pictures show the main character’s legs covered with blood; blood on the main character’s underwear from an occurrence of menstruation; a blood-covered tampon; a toy vibrator that led to ‘my first orgasm’ as well as two illustrations of young people engaged in oral sex.
Kobabe, the author of Gender Queer, goes by the pronouns e/em/eir.
The American Library Association’s list comes out during a national debate over what kind of books students have access to in school libraries.
States across the country have introduced legislation that pertains to school library books. According to EveryLibrary.org, there were 26 states that have introduced legislation pertaining to library book materials in 2023.
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Tom Gantert worked at many daily newspapers including the Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and USA Today. Gantert was the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential for five years before joining The Center Square.
Photo “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe.