Banned Books 2023 – Gender Queer: A Memoir

Marshall University does not ban books! The information is provided to let people know what has been banned/challenged elsewhere.


Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images.

Gender Queer and It’s Perfectly Normal were challenged at Maine School Administrative District #6. Both were retained without restriction.

A request for the reconsideration of Gender Queer was submitted to the Liberty Lake Municipal Library (WA), claiming the title was pornographic. The title was retained, but the outcome was appealed to the library board. The board upheld the decision by a vote of 4-2. A community member who advocated for banning Gender Queer was then appointed to the City Council. In December, the council proposed an ordinance changing the library’s reconsideration process so the council would adjudicate challenge appeals instead of the library board.

A Court of Mist and Fury was removed from Virginia Beach City Public School (VA) libraries after a school board member challenged it. Following its removal from the school district, petitions seeking to bar the sale of A Court of Mist and Fury and Gender Queer on grounds they were obscene progressed to the Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach. The petitions were challenged by the ACLU of Virginia. The American Library Association and Freedom to Read Foundation were amici curiae. The Circuit Court rejected the petitions and vacated a lower court finding of probable cause for obscenity.

Parents challenged 5 titles in Shawnee Heights Unified School District 450 (KS) libraries, including The Hate U Give, Gender Queer, and All Boys Aren’t Blue. State senator Rick Kloos publicly stated that he supported efforts to remove Gender Queer and held a meeting with school superintendent Tim Hallacy to discuss the matter. All five titles were retained


Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe was one of five LGBTQIA+ titles challenged by a parent at the North Hunterdon-Voorhees (NJ) Regional High School District. The other titles were Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. The parent read some snippets, called for audits, and threatened criminal charges for those responsible for providing “evil, wicked” content in the school. The school board voted to retain all five challenged LGBTQIA+ titles.

At McLean County (IL) Unit School District No. 5, some speakers at a school board meeting called Gender Queer pornographic, saying the book is a form of “grooming.” In 90 minutes of public comments, some of the most commonly raised concerns related to school library books, diversity, and inclusion. The school board made no decision about the book at this meeting.

In the Harrisonburg (VA) City Public Schools, several people from outside the school district complained about Gender Queer in a school board meeting. The superintendent, acting on his own initiative, removed the book from the high school library. He admitted there has not been a formal challenge to the book, so this is outside the district’s procedure for challenges.

A noncustodial parent of a child attending the Central Kitsap (WA) School District filed police reports against the high school librarian, principal, superintendent, and school board members alleging they
were distributing “pedophilic pornography.” Removed, but then a Freedom of Information Act request to determine whether policy had been followed resulted in a committee review, and the decision to restore
Gender Queer to the shelves. The book was subsequently checked out and not returned. The replacement copy ordered by the school district was also stolen.

A group of parents distributed flyers containing excerpts and illustrations from this and other books at a meeting of the Rockwood (MO) School District Board. After the meeting, they submitted requests for reconsideration of This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, The Haters by Jesse Andrews, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton, Heroine by Mindy McGinnis, and The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson, claiming the books were pornographic. A review committee of two teachers, two librarians, a curriculum coordinator, a school board member, four parents, and two high school students voted to retain all challenged titles. However, The Breakaways was restricted to students in fourth grade and up.

In some of the other places across the United States where the book was challenged, Gender
• Retained in Richardson (TX) Independent School District
• Banned in Orange County (FL) Public Schools
• Retained in the Sheboygan Falls (WI) Memorial Library
• Banned in Greenville County (SC) Schools
• Banned in Anchorage (AK) School District
• Banned in Pinellas County (FL) School District
• Banned in West Chester (PA) Area School District
• Banned in Loudoun County (VA) Public Schools
• Retained in Billings (MT) Public Schools


A patron asked the staff of the Huntington Beach (CA) Public Library for this graphic novel memoir about growing up nonbinary. She filled out a request for re-evaluation form, then posted out-of-context images from the book on Facebook, leading to many negative and inflammatory posts advocating for the destruction of the book and challenging library staff. The patron also contacted the library director, city manager, and other members of the city council. The book was moved from the teen to the adult collection.

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A Banned book has been removed from a library, classroom, etc.
A Challenged book has been requested to be removed from a library, classroom, etc.

For additional information contact

Ron Titus,

Last updated

August 22, 2023