“Gender Queer” not banned in West Des Moines’ Southwoods High School

The West Des Moines school board voted Monday to keep a queer author’s comic-style memoir on the district’s library shelves, though it may not have the final say.

Last year, Teri Patrick of Clive made a complaint about the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe that’s available on library shelves at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School, a campus for ninth grade students. The book, which does not appear to be in the Valley High School library, traces the author’s journey with sexuality and gender identity through adolescence and adulthood.

Patrick’s complaint moved through two review committees and the superintendent before she took it before the school board, which voted 6-1 Monday to keep “Gender Queer” at Valley Southwoods. Board member Liz Cox voted no, adding that she was the lone vote on a previous committee against keeping the book.

“I have to believe that there are books that support LGBTQ students that are age-appropriate and do not have this content,” Patrick told the board. She declined to speak with the Des Moines Register after the vote.

Parents in the metro and across the country have challenged “Gender Queer” over the book’s depiction of sexual activity, masturbation and sexual fantasy on the part of the narrator, calling the book pornographic and likening its presence in schools to child grooming.

Board members grilled Patrick with pointed questions but also praised her for coming forward to share her opinion, make thoughtful arguments and spark a discussion.

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