Group Says Governor’s Call to Investigate Book “Political Attack on LGBTQ Youth”

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The South Carolina Department of Education is reviewing school district policies on library books in response to a complaint from parents that an illustrated book in Fort Mill school libraries is inappropriate and pornographic.

The book, Queer gender: a thesis, chronicles the LGBTQ + life of author Maia Kobabe and is currently the best-selling LGBTQ + graphic novel on Amazon, which describes it as a “guide to gender identity.”

In September, Virginia’s largest school district, Fairfax County Public Schools, banned the book, and since then other states and school districts have challenged it, now including South Carolina.

“There is no place in South Carolina for this kind of inappropriate material to be presented to our young people,” Governor Henry McMaster said Thursday.

Wednesday, McMaster sent a letter to Superintendent of Schools Molly Spearman, in which he described Homosexual gender as “obscene and pornographic” and asked the state education ministry to investigate how the illustrated book made its way to school libraries in Fort Mill and find out if it is in other schools, while also calling on the department to develop a process “to review and approve books and other materials that are available to students “.

“We are going to remove the things that harm our children or put obstacles in their way as they grow older,” McMaster told reporters Thursday.

The South Carolina Department of Education said school library books are selected by schools and districts and the state does not pay for them, adding in a statement: “It is clear that in this particular case, the district did not properly control the book in question to be adopted.

After learning of the book’s placement in the Fort Mill School Library, “the agency immediately contacted the Fort Mill principal who had previously instructed staff to remove the book in question. At a statewide meeting of district superintendents later in the week, the topic was discussed and the districts were given the name of the book and the publisher so that they could also review the documents. of their library and their media library to check their relevance, ”said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education.

Kobabe, the author, wrote in an October 29 editorial in the Washington Post, “Removing or restricting queer books from libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who may not even know what terms to ask Google yet to find out more on their own. identity, body and health. “

Campaign for Southern Equality, a Southeast-based LGBTQ + rights organization, said in a statement that the state should focus on issues “that are currently impacting students,” including the recovery of learning losses in pandemic and solving health problems.

“This call from Governor McMaster is a transparent and coordinated political attack on LGBTQ youth by lawmakers who have long opposed the freedom and equality of LGBTQ people. In recent weeks we’ve seen similar efforts to ban books in North Carolina, Virginia and Texas – and last year Governor McMaster called for a ban on transgender students from playing school sports ” said Ivy Hill, director of the CSE’s community health program.

The Fort Mill School District said it had taken Homosexual gender on the shelves of two high school media centers and out of circulation for his online catalog as he examines the book in the wake of the complaint.

“Although the letter refers to the Fort Mill School District, the governor is calling for a statewide investigation and is not specifically targeting the district,” Fort Mill Schools said in a statement.

Members of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians said in a statement Thursday that they “strongly condemned any form of censorship or removal of books and materials from libraries without following established processes.”

“South Carolina school librarians are professional educators, trained in selecting materials to meet the needs of a large and diverse student community,” the SCASL statement continued. “The selection of materials for school libraries is guided by district collection development policies and American Library Association guidelines. Districts also have review policies and procedures for voters wishing to request the review of specific documents. These procedures should be followed each time a request is made to remove a book or library resource. Statements by elected officials should never replace or replace these policies and procedures as determined by local school boards.

The group said, although they believe parents have the power to determine what material their children can and cannot read, “no person or group has the right to make choices for other children.” .

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