Buxton-based School Administrative District 6 is the latest school system in Maine weighing whether to remove books about sexuality and gender identity from school libraries at the request of parents.

The SAD 6 Board of Directors representing the towns of Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Standish and Frye Island, spent about an hour Monday night listening to comments on both sides of the controversial issue, with some parents calling the books pornographic while others said they are a resource for students struggling with their sexual identity.

The board members decided to spend the next two weeks reading “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender and Sexual Health” before deciding at a Sept. 6 meeting whether to remove the books from the school libraries at Bonny Eagle Middle School and Bonny Eagle High School.

After the hearing, SAD 6 Superintendent Clay Gleason urged the 11-person board to weigh its decision carefully. Gleason said the board should try not to allow one parent or family’s beliefs to influence their decision that has the potential to affect the entire school community.

“We educate all students who walk through our doors and we have to make sure one parent’s views do not override the opinions of others,” Gleason said.

“It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie H. Harris was published in 1994 and there are more than 1.5 million copies in print, according to Amazon. It is aimed at children ages 9-12 by exploring different definitions of sex. But its content regarding such issues as contraception and gender identity have caused concern among some educators and parents.


“Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe, was published in 2019 and is a book about gender identity and sexuality. It recounts the author’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and the author’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality. The book has come under scrutiny and in some instances been removed from school systems around the nation as well as in Maine. “Gender Queer” became the most challenged book in the United States in 2021, according to the American Library Association.

On Aug. 10, RSU 56’s board of directors voted to remove “Gender Queer” from Dirigo High School’s library after parents appealed. The high school is located in Dixfield.

Chad Green is a teacher at Bonny Eagle High School, who served on a five-person subcommittee of the district’s Curriculum Advisory Committee. Green told the board of directors that his committee, which consisted of three teachers, a librarian and a parent, read both books in March. Though Green said the committee found some faults with some of the images in “It’s Perfectly Normal,” they also agreed that the book served its purpose as a resource for children who need it and should not be removed. He added that the book had been “infrequently checked out.”

Parents filed an appeal and on Aug. 1, the district’s Policy Committee decided that the final decision should be made by SAD 6’s Board of Directors.


A number of parents on both sides of the issue spoke Monday evening. Many of them pointed out that the materials contained in the books also can be found on the internet. Several said the schools should not be making such materials available to students. Others said the books could serve as useful resources for students struggling with their sexual identity.


Charity Boedeker, a Buxton parent, called on board members to protect children from over-sexualized content such as the material found in “Gender Queer.” She described some of the art in the book as “pornographic.”

Robert Wilkinson, who lives in Bridgton, said he read both books. He is a former teacher and member of the RSU 57 School Board in Waterboro. He urged the board to remove both books from school libraries.

“I believe they are books of temptation when viewed by children,” Wilkinson said. “Once innocence is lost, it is lost forever.”

Janice Pease, who lives in Limington, told the board that she read “It’s Perfectly Normal.” She urged the board to remove the book from the school library.

“First, shock set in, but when I got to the pictures, I was appalled. It was pornography,” Pease said.



Ken Deprez of Hollis said critics of the books seem to have an agenda based on “homophobia and bigotry.” He urged the board to consider the entire school community, especially the LGBTQ students, when making its decision. Deprez told the board he has three children, who attend elementary school.

“I believe our schools need to be a safe space for all students to feel welcome,” Deprez said. “This (removing the books) could send a message to LGBTQ youth.”

Neither book is required reading or part of the district’s curriculum and are only available to students who check the books out from the library, school officials said.

Superintendent Gleason suggested a solution. He said that parents who do not want their children to read those books can contact their school librarians and have those books flagged from being withdrawn.

“I feel that by removing any book, it would be taking a step down a dangerous road,” Gleason said.

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