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Controversial book returned to Canutillo High School library reignites protest, calls for removal

CANUTILLO, Texas -- Parents voiced their objections to a controversial book’s return to Canutillo High School library's shelves.

The parents spoke during the public comments portion of Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The book was not on the agenda and no action was taken. The comments, however, sparked several tense moments.

The book at the center of the controversy is titled “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. It chronicles the author’s journey of identifying as non-binary and asexual.

Parents had previously complained about the book’s graphic nature, which includes images of oral sex.

See the image of a poster showing pages from the book here.

The book was placed under review and temporarily removed from the library. The book was returned to library shelves after a 9-member committee made up of parents, educators and librarians voted 8-to-1 for the book’s return so that students could check it out.

ABC-7 made an open records request for that committee’s report and a spokeswoman told us they won't release it because of safety concerns.

ABC-7 spoke with Eli Galvan who went to Fabens High School in a different school district. Galvan began transitioning three years ago. Galvan told ABC-7 that resources like this book help queer students feel more comfortable with who they are.

"Having the type of resources for everybody to be able to go out there and get the book and read it for not those pages but for the actual knowledge within that could help me discover what I'm going through is of great importance to me," Galvan said.

Galvan also said back when he was in high school he had to get a lot of his information from online where there is also a lot of disinformation. He said books like this one can prove pivotal in helping the queer community.

Where the book stands now:

Sergio Coronado, President of the Cauntillo ISD board, told ABC-7 that the board can't talk about the book until it becomes an item on the agenda.

He said for that to happen the committee's decision has to be appealed directly by filing a written grievance to the board. Once it's an item on the agenda, the board will hear all arguments then go into executive session and make a final decision.

Canutillo ISD told ABC-7 any parent and call up the school and talk to a librarian and teacher and request this book or any other book be flagged for their student which means they wouldn't be able to check it out from the library.

“Gender Queer: A Memoir” is also available at Chapin, Bowie, Eastlake and Americas High Schools. Spokesmen for both the El Paso Independent School District and Socorro Independent School District told ABC-7 they haven't had any complaints about the book.

The publisher, Simon & Schuster, recommends the book for grades ten and higher.

Article Topic Follows: Education
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David Gonzalez

ABC-7’s digital content director

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