Columbus City Schools Staff Demand Removal of Controversial Book
And just like that, one of the most banned books in America quietly vanished from Columbus City Schools' high school libraries.
The autobiographical is titled Gender Queer: A Memoir, written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe and published in 2019. The author takes readers along her yearlong journey to explain what it is like to navigate the world of nonbinary, in that you are not solely male or female.
The 240-page book covers sensitive issues like gender confusion, masturbation, sexual identity, and menstruation.
Kobabe's cartoon illustrations leave nothing to the imagination. In one drawing, she shows a boy giving oral sex to another boy. In another, there's an illustration of a bloody tampon. There's even a discussion about sex toys with a drawing of a vibrator.
On Friday, Columbus City Schools teachers tipped off The Sussi Report that this book recently showed up in high school libraries.
"This book should be in an adult section, not at public high schools," said a teacher who did want to be identified for fear of losing their job. "It's pornography!"
The Sussi Report contacted all seven members of the Columbus City Schools Board of Education and Jacqueline Bryant, the District's Director of Communications.
Bryant acknowledged that the book was distributed to high school libraries this week but has since been removed.
Bryant told The Sussi Report that it was an oversight that the controversial book made its way to Columbus City Schools.
"This title was included as part of a set of diverse books ordered over the summer for our high school libraries," explained Bryant in an email. " A committee created a list of books that they had vetted, but some of the books were not available. This book was included as a replacement but was not vetted by the committee before receiving it."
The Sussi Report received a copy of an email that Ebone Johnson, the District's Elementary Curriculum Program Supervisor in the Office of Teaching and Learning, sent to the District's administrators. In bold letters, Johnson wrote, "We are asking that you immediately pull the book Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe from your shelves and catalog."
Johnson added, "as you continue to explore your newly purchased books, if at any time you have questions or concerns about the content and/or illustrations, please do not hesitate to contact me."
Bryant said, "going forward; the District will ensure all book selections follow a strict criterion for developing our diverse book collections, including the proper vetting and review of each book for compliance with guidelines set forth by the committee."
Bryant added, "while we want our students to have a diverse set of books titles, we do not want sexually explicit content in our book offerings."
Amazon sells the book and advises that it's for ages 18 and older.
Another teacher who spoke with The Sussi Report said, "they want us to believe that they somewhat missed the screening (process). Just pushing an agenda thinking an urban school district won't have any parental oversight to catch them."
Hudson High School is the only Ohio school known to make Gender Queer: A Memoir, available to its students.