The SAD 6 school board will decide in two weeks whether to keep a controversial book on gender and sexuality on the shelves of the library at Bonny Eagle High School.

The decision whether to remove “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe from the high school library comes on the heels of the board’s 10-1 decision two weeks ago to allow, “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health” by Robie H. Harris to remain on the shelves of the Bonny Eagle Middle School library. Both books deal with gender identity and sexuality, topics that have roiled parents in school districts across the nation. “Gender Queer: A Memoir” tops the American Library Association’s list of books that were challenged in 2021 in school districts throughout the nation.

Portland Press Herald file photo

Parents of district students filed appeals after the district’s Material Review Committee determined that the books were timely and relevant and did not glorify or promote a certain type of lifestyle. Some parents contend the books contain pornographic images and details and should not be accessible to students. Neither book is part of any SAD 6 curriculum or assigned to any student in any district class.

“Gender Queer” has come under scrutiny in other Maine school districts. On Aug. 10, the RSU 56 school board voted to remove the book from the Dirigo High School library after parents complained. The high school is located in Dixfield.

Bonny Eagle schools Superintendent Clay Gleason told board members that he would make copies of “Gender Queer” available for each to read, with a decision on whether to allow the book scheduled for the board’s next meeting on Oct. 3.

Board members spent more than an hour Monday night listening to residents on both sides of the issue.


Opponents claim the book is pornographic and contains vivid descriptions of sex acts that high schoolers should not be exposed to. They claim the book has no place in a school library that is funded by taxpayers.

Proponents defended the book saying it offers insight and hope to young people who are struggling with their sexual identity. They also said the district should not allow a small group of parents who want the book removed to force their views on the rest of the district.

Randa Thomas, a high school teacher, read a letter from an unnamed “queer” student who asked the board to keep “Gender Queer” in circulation. The student said the book offered insight on how a person’s body doesn’t always reflect their soul.

“By removing this book you are sending a message that we are not welcome here,” the student wrote.

Several parents who want the book removed said its descriptions of sexual acts were far too detailed and not age appropriate.

“This has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community,” said Charity Boedeker of Standish. “It is the sexually explicit materials in these books.”

Jess Webber of Hollis, a teacher at Bonny Eagle High School whose son is enrolled there, supports keeping “Gender Queer” on library shelves. Webber told the board that one group of people does not get to speak for all district parents.

“We need to ask ourselves, what does Bonny Eagle stand for. Do we want to stand for book banners, hysteria and fear mongering?” Webber said. “I want to stand for acceptance and love, for common sense and decency.”

Board members did not weigh in on the issue during Monday’s hearing. MSAD 6 represents the towns of Buxton, Standish, Limington, Hollis and Frye Island.

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