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'It's not just LGBTQ themes': Controversial book will remain on JCPS shelves following vote

In a unanimous vote, JCPS School Based Decision Making Council members decided to keep the book in the schools.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Members of the Jefferson County Public Schools School Based Decision Making (SBDM) Council voted to keep an LGBTQ+ book that sparked controversy on bookshelves Monday.

That means Liberty High School and the Phoenix School of Discovery will not have to get rid of the book, "Gender Queer."

The SBDM Council says there were multiple factors coming into play for this decision. 

One of the reasons they mentioned is they feel the book has serious literary value for students.

Parents like Miranda Stovall, who introduced the appeal, and her attorney say it breaks a Kentucky law that prohibits the distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors. 

"It's not just LGBTQ themes," she said. "That just happens to be a book that was brought to my attention."

The council cited the Miller v. California decision saying the criteria, which would label the book as obscene material, is not met in this instance.

The book is said to be a memoir detailing the author's journey to self-discovery by coming to terms with their sexual identity and being non-binary.

In a unanimous vote, SBDM Council members decided to keep the book in the schools, a decision Chris Hartman, the executive director for the Fairness Campaign, said is necessary.

Stovall says she plans to continue pushing to ban books, one at a time. 

That's part of a growing trend.

Data published by the American Library Association in September shows the number of attempts to ban books or restrict resources in schools, universities, and public libraries is on track to break the record that was just set in 2021.

"If we ban books that talk about LGBTQ identities, we're cutting a lifeline to queer, particularly trans kids who don't see themselves represented in school, in popular media, oftentimes in life," Hartman said.

Council members also say it is the district's job to educate the whole child, including but not limited to social and emotional learning, opportunities to learn about different cultures, identities and more.

Two of the other reasons for the decision, as noted by the SBDM Council members, is that the decision does not raise liability and/or health and safety concerns and that this decision is consistent with District goals.

The school district's Executive Director of Library Media Services Dr. Lynn Reynolds has previously said books like these can help those going through similar experiences gain knowledge on something they may need help with.

"Gender Queer" was one of the most challenged books in 2021 according to the American Library Association.

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