Parental Advisory: Court Rules 'Gender Queer' Novel Too Sexually Explicit for Schools

Library books at a Connecticut school / Getty Images
May 20, 2022

Two sexually explicit novels may soon be removed from Virginia public school libraries thanks to a circuit court decision that called the books "obscene."

Judge Pamela Baskervill ruled Wednesday that Gender Queer: A Memoir and A Court of Mist and Fury are too "obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors," ABC 7 News reported. Virginia public schools may soon have to remove the novels and similarly graphic books from library shelves. The books' publishers have three weeks to contest the ruling.

The Virginia Beach School Board voted prior to the decision to remove Gender Queer from libraries, after a district working group deemed it "pervasively vulgar." Written by "nonbinary" author Maia Kobabe, Gender Queer is a graphic novel focused on the author's sexual experiences.

The book contains illustrations of a male character performing oral sex on a dildo affixed to Kobabe with a harness and recounts Kobabe's trip to a pornography production company. A Court of Mist and Fury contains several graphic sexual scenes, the Washington Free Beacon found.

Virginia state delegate Tim Anderson (R.) in April petitioned the court to pull the books from schools on behalf of Tommy Altman, a congressional candidate running against Rep. Elaine Luria (D., Va.). Altman and Anderson on Wednesday filed a separate motion to the court, seeking to extend the ruling to all Virginia libraries and booksellers. If a judge rules in their favor, public libraries and bookstores will be barred from sharing or selling the books to minors without parental permission.

Critics say that banning books from school libraries violates the First Amendment. But Anderson insists the court order doesn't explicitly ban the books but helps parents control their children's access to obscene content, according to ABC 7.

This is not the first time Gender Queer has caused a dustup in Virginia schools. Fairfax County Public Schools in October pulled the book from libraries but reversed its decision a month later. Loudoun County Public Schools removed Gender Queer from libraries after determining the book "ran counter to what is appropriate in school."