The person I am arguing with here seems to think so.
They can be. I read Gender Queer. It was not something I think suitable for very young children, but there are going to be tweens and teens that would appreciate knowing their problems are not unique and that others who have battled these issues. Overall, I would recommend the book for middle and high school students. The couple of graphics with the blowjob are not going to surprise many kids. Not these days and not even when I was a kid in the '60s.
The problem is: It’s not porn.
McMaster was responding to complaints from parents about “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” an award-winning graphic novel by Maia Kobabe about the author’s experience growing up nonbinary and asexual.
Ryan Brown, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Education, told ABC News that local school officials decide what to put in libraries, not the state. But he said he agreed with McMaster that “Gender Queer,” which contains images of oral sex and masturbation, is not appropriate for students.
“You can put the merits of the book aside and the content of the book aside. It really falls on the imagery within it,” said Brown.
“Gender Queer” has been a topic of controversy in other states. In October, after a parent complained to school officials about the book’s presence in her child’s high school, Brevard County Public Schools, in Florida, pulled the text from its libraries and directed school staff to “ensure there are no other similar books in our libraries,” Superintendent Mark Mullins said in a statement.
Russell Bruhn, a spokesman for the district, told ABC News Friday, “The content isn’t the problem. It’s the graphic images.”
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Kobabe, in an op-ed last month in the Washington Post, argued that books like “Gender Queer” are a “lifeline” for queer youth. The author said that a student wrote to Kobabe to say they felt “understood” after reading the memoir.
In the op-ed, Kobabe cited several other states where parents and officials have voiced opposition to “Gender Queer.”
Kobabe’s publisher, Oni Press, said it is standing by the author.
“The fact is, ‘Gender Queer’ is an important, timely piece of work that serves as an invaluable resource for not only those that identify as nonbinary or genderqueer, but for people looking to understand what that means,” the company said in a statement.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a media group dedicated to accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people, told ABC News in a statement that young people identifying as LGBTQ “need to see themselves in stories about their lives.”
“We all need to see stories of LGBTQ people, Black people, queer people of color and all marginalized groups to better understand each other’s experiences,” said Ellis.
Book censorship became an issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial race this fall, after Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign published an ad featuring a mother who was upset that her child was reading a book that contained “some of the most explicit material you can imagine.”
It was later discovered that that book in question was “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, which won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Youngkin defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.
It’s an odd case, because the drawings that were linked via Reddit links from this forum were explicit, in showing an unequivocal sex act, but not pornographic, i.e., showing the act in a way likely to arouse (genitals not front & centre, for example). There’s been no non-bluster talk I know of of prosecuting the author for illegal pornography.
Here’s an Amazon.ca comment that illustrates where this book sits in our zeitgeist pretty well.
(Kellie) "This is such a heartfelt, raw memoir. At times this book had me teary eyed at the brutal honesty and the extent to which e was willing to share. I believe this graphic novel would be a wonderful tool for many young people that struggle with gender.
“* Please note: I DO recommend this graphic novel. However, as a high school librarian there are a few sexually explicit illustrations which prevented me from adding it to our collection.”