For the third year, Maia Kobabe's 'Gender Queer' tops library book criticism.

New York — Maia Kobabe's graphic memoir “Gender Queer” tops the American Library Association's “challenged books” list for a third year. Kobabe's 2019 coming-of-age narrative won the library association's Alex Award for best young adult fiction.  

Conservative groups like Moms for Liberty argue that parents should have more control over library programming. Florida, Texas, and other schools have outlawed “Gender Queer” due to political criticism. Police in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, searched an 8th grade classroom last December after a custodian complained about the book.  

The ALA issued its list and annual State of America's Libraries Report on Monday. “A few advocacy groups have made ‘Gender Queer’ a lightning rod,” says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, association Office for Intellectual Freedom director. “People are trying to shut down gender identity conversation.”  

George M. Johnson's “All Boys Aren't Blue,” Juno Dawson's “This Book is Gay,” Stephen Chbosky's “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and Mike Curato's “Flamer” were among the ALA's top 10 LGBTQ novels.  

Other five works on the list were sexually explicit: Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," Ellen Hopkins' "Tricks," Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan's “Let's Talk About It,” Patricia McCormick's “Sold,” and Jesse Andrews' “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  

“These books are beyond the pale for some people simply because they touch upon sex,” Caldwell-Stone argues. ALA stated in March that 2023 bans and attempted bans reached record highs since the group began recording complaints in the early 2000s. More than 4,240 school and public library books were targeted, up from a record 2,571 in 2022.  

Many controversial books—47%—have LGBTQ and racial issues. The ALA defines a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”  

The group based its statistics on media coverage and librarian reports, but has long suspected that many challenges go uncounted or that librarians pull books before protests.  

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