Several residents told the Cumberland-North Yarmouth School Board last week that the book “Gender Queer” should be removed from the Greely High School library because it is inappropriately sexually explicit.

The book, a memoir in graphic novel form by Maia Kobabe, is currently the most banned book in the nation. It is not part of any SAD 51 curriculum but is available to high school students in the Greely library, according school board Chairperson Leanne Candura.

A handful of residents took their concerns to the school board Sept. 18, with some reading passages from the book that dealt with sexual subjects. Cumberland parent Scott Jordan also presented enlarged photos of illustrations in the book that portray sexual acts.

“I felt like I needed to shower after I read those passages,” Jordan said in an interview with The Forecaster this week.

The effort to remove “Gender Queer” from the high school library has picked up steam since Jordan initially brought his concerns it to the school board this summer. At the meeting last week, four residents, including Jordan, called for the book to be removed, while two spoke in favor of keeping it in place.

Jordan said he doesn’t know if he or the other residents will file a formal request to remove the book from the high school library, but he does know it doesn’t belong in a school.


“This content is not age appropriate for the mass majority of students,” Jordan said. “From a personal standpoint, I would not want these books in schools.”

Mike Timmons, a former state representative from Cumberland and a retired educator, told the board the book should be removed.

“The book does have sexually explicit images,” Timmons said. “This book is the No. 1 book banned by many districts, and it’s inappropriate for students under the age of 18.”

Katie Simpson, a Cumberland resident, disagreed. As a bisexual woman growing up in a rural town, she said, she would have appreciated books like “Gender Queer” being available to her. She also argued that some parents might not teach their children about gender and sexuality, and those topics should be discussed with high school students.

“Book banning makes me pretty uncomfortable,” Simpson said. “I would urge the board and the school not to engage in that, and to support the libraries and librarians in engaging with students and including books that show a wide variety of different ways of being in the world.”

Zach Bouchard of Cumberland said the book should remain on the library shelves.


“If we could only include books that the entire community agreed on together, there would only be about seven books in the library,” Bouchard said. “There are plenty of books in the library that I wholeheartedly disagree with, but asking the school board to ban them would be a nonstarter.”

School board members did not respond to the residents’ comments at the meeting.

The book, published in 2019, deals with the author’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality and covers topics such as gender dysphoria, asexuality and relationships.

“Just look at the book. It doesn’t teach core academics,” Jordan said. “If you want to do that on your own time, then that’s your choice as an educator. But don’t put it in the hands of our children.”

According to a Selection of Educational Materials document for the district, Superintendent Jeff Porter, in consultation with administrators and educators, is responsible for “selecting appropriate educational and library media materials.” Parents may request that their child be denied access to certain reading materials.

If a formal request is made to remove a book, a review committee appointed by Porter and made up of one librarian, one classroom leader, a curriculum leader and one community member will decide whether to grant the request.


“MSAD 51 has not had any formal book challenge requests against ‘Gender Queer’ following the policy and procedure,” Candura told The Forecaster.

Challenges of books with LGBTQ+ and sexual content, including “Gender Queer,” have been made in school districts across the state. Earlier this year, for example, a group of Windham-Raymond parents challenged “Gender Queer,” calling it “pornographic.” A review committee in April denied their request for removal. The Bonny Eagle district also decided not to remove the book from its high school library.

Jordan, who was defeated in a race for a Cumberland Town Council seat in June, said he felt his comments to the school board in July were unfairly received. Although a resident before him spoke for six minutes on another matter, the board cut Jordan off after three minutes, he said, and the board then abruptly adjourned.

Candura said three minutes is the standard time for a public comment.

Comments are not available on this story.