A popular pro-LGBTQ+ author, Maia Kobabe, has come out to defend the use of the “Gender Queer” book in schools, saying it was not intended for “Kids” while responding to Sen. John Kennedy’s viral read from an explicit passage in the book during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Kobabe’s book was among the several controversial books containing sexually explicit content found in public schools nationwide.
The Senate special session titled: “Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature” was organized to discuss the types of books that should be publicly available to students, with the Senator also reading sexually explicit excerpts from multiple graphic books, including “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and Kobabe’s “Gender Queer.”
Kobabe’s novel is among the highly rejected books by parents for its content depicting sexual acts and mast*rbation, with the book topping the list of the most banned books in 2021, according to the American Library Association.
During the session, the Republican senator also grilled the witnesses pushing for state initiatives and legislations barring parents from having a say in the type of content their children can access.
‘The Pronouns are the Tip of the Iceberg’
In an interview with the New York Post, Kobabe, who uses “e/em/eir” pronouns, slammed the Louisiana Republican Senator, accusing him of “misreading of the comic book form,” adding that the book is not meant for children as the senator implied, but written for parents and older teens.
“I originally wrote it for my parents and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves. I don’t recommend this book for kids,” Kobabe told the New York Post.
According to Kobabe, the comic book was a tool for overcoming family norms and explaining the gender ideology explicitly to others who have had questions about being ‘queer,’ adding that gender pronouns are just the “tip of the iceberg.”
However, it hasn’t been a smooth sail for Kobabe after publishing the graphic comic book in 2019, as the novel has since faced bans and restrictions in many School Districts across multiple states.
With a solid commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, the author believes “queer kids need queer stories.” And so was the title of the opinion article on Post in October 2021.
A Book for ‘High School and Above’
In the opinion piece, Kobabe said the graphic book would benefit students in “high school and above” without specifying the precise age group. If the general high school age is to go by, the target audience would be students above the age of 14.
Clarifying the primary intention of the book in an interview with the New York Post, Kobabe explained that being a comic “doesn’t mean it’s for children,” as the Senator implied during the Senate meeting where he read a sexually explicit excerpt aloud.
Having gone through life as a non-binary person, Kababo told the Post that e struggled to learn more about being queer through social media due to a lack of sufficient terms to use on Google when searching for information on nonbinary gender, with many not understanding the point about being queer gender.
As such, writing a book was a brilliant idea to help parents and young adults struggling with non-binary gender identity.
In an interview with the New York Times back in May 2022, Kobabo imagined the book would be appealing to “young adults” wrestling with a gender identity crisis, friends, and family of people with nonbinary gender, with the novel’s publisher, Lion Forge, marketing it to “older teens and adults.”
Kababo also said in another interview with Pen America in May this year that reading a book like The ‘Queer Gender’ as a freshman in high school could have saved em “years of questioning and confusion” by helping em discover who e was and how e wanted to interact with the world.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.