Children in the Hastings Public Schools district can easily get their hands on a book titled “Gender Queer” that includes illustrations of sexual acts, a school board member said.
In an interview conducted by Minnesota Senate candidate Tom Dippel, Hastings school board member Carrie Tate confirmed that the controversial graphic novel by Maia Kobabe is available to schoolchildren in the district. The book depicts oral sex and masturbation.
In response to a concerned parent who requested the removal of “Gender Queer,” Tate said both the district superintendent and the director of teaching and learning recommended the book remain available. But she noted the school board passed her motion to eventually discuss the availability of sexually graphic materials in the district.
“[Parents] are astonished that it’s in our school, and I think that they’re appalled,” Tate said. “It comes down to exposing children to sexually explicit materials without parental knowledge or consent.”
“It has pictures of oral sex, pictures of masturbation, it talks about sex toys, all these things that should be off the table for free access to children,” Tate continued.
In a press release, Dippel stated the “presence” of the book has “clearly breached the trust of parents in Hastings.”
“Minnesota must pass curricular transparency legislation that gives parents a seat at the table,” the state Senate candidate added.
The book description reads in part: “Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity — what it means and how to think about it — for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.”
Critics of the book’s inclusion in school libraries, and other similar books, argue that preventing children from accessing material with depicting sex acts is not “banning” the books or violating the First Amendment.
“This is in several school districts, and the fact is that parents don’t know,” Tate added.
Hastings Superintendent Robert McDowell and his assistant did not respond to multiple requests for comment.