US Army Base Unveils Display of Purportedly Banned Books in Effort To Create 'Inclusive Environment'

Joint Base Lewis-McChord display highlights book that teaches children how to access gay hookup apps

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
May 24, 2024

A U.S. Army base in Washington State erected a display promoting "challenged" books that have been pulled from some K-12 schools due to their sexually explicit content, an initiative that a spokesman for the base said is aimed at promoting inclusivity.

Among the books featured were Gender Queer, This Book Is Gay, and Flamer, all three of which have been a source of controversy in K-12 schools for their graphic sexual content. Democrats across the country have described school decisions to remove those books from libraries for young children as "book bans." The Army display described the featured books as "challenged."

The display comes amid an ongoing military recruitment shortage. Under the Biden administration, service members are forced to take lessons on gender identity and have been told that avoiding gender pronouns will help improve their "lethality." The display at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Grandstaff Library, titled "We support your right to read," was aimed at creating an "inclusive environment," a spokesman for the base told the Washington Free Beacon.

Of the books displayed on the base, Gender Queer contains illustrations of a male character performing oral sex on a dildo strapped to a teenage girl. The book, a memoir by Maia Kobabe, is so pornographic that when Independent Women's Voice, a Virginia women's advocacy group, created an ad and bought airtime in 2021 to expose the book's contents, Virginia TV stations refused to air it. ABC, CBS, and NBC said federal law prohibits them from showing such pornographic images. A federal judge ruled in 2022 that the memoir is too "obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors." The Army display said the book was "challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was claimed to be sexually explicit."

Juno Dawson's This Book Is Gay is published under the Young Adult genre, which is accepted to include children aged 12 through 18, and describes how to use an app that helps find where "the nearest homosexuals are" and the "ins and outs of gay sex."

Its description calls the book an "uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it's like to grow up LGBTQ." One passage of the book states: "Perhaps the most important skill you will master as a gay or bi man is the timeless classic 'the handjob.'" The Army display said the book was "challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, [being] sexually explicit, [and] sexual education."

Flamer by Mike Curato was also included in the display. The librarians said it was challenged because it was "claimed to be sexually explicit." The graphic novel features illustrations of naked teenage boys and in-depth discussions of erections and describes a group of male teenagers masturbating together.

Public affairs officer Joseph Piek defended the library display, saying the base is striving for an "inclusive" and "diverse" environment.

"We understand that not all materials will be wanted by all patrons, but our professional librarians had the intent of creating an inclusive environment that reflects our diverse joint base community," Piek told the Free Beacon. "The decision on appropriate content is a personal decision made at the family level."

Piek said the display was erected last month during National Library Week and will be replaced with a different display in June.

Published under: Army , Book bans , LGBT