UNION — Members of a regional school board in Knox County are getting pulled into the nationwide debate about whether to remove library books about sexuality and gender identity.

School board members in RSU 40 will read copies of one frequently targeted book, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe before deciding next month whether to keep it in the Medomak Valley High School library or remove it as a few parents have asked. The board is expected to make a decision Oct. 20.

RSU 40 serves students in Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Warren and Washington.

Parents first asked in October 2021 to have “Gender Queer” removed, said Superintendent Steve Nolan.

Nolan said he followed the district’s policy when a book is challenged: He appointed a committee that reviewed the book and submitted a report to him, after which he decided to keep the book in the library. A Waldoboro resident, who is not a parent of a student in the district, appealed the decision in June.

The superintendent said the next step is for the board members to review the book. The district received copies on Sept. 15 and board members will read it before the Oct. 20 meeting.


The book is not required reading in any class, but is available in the library.

“Gender Queer” has won the Alex Award as well as the Stonewall Book Award. There are two copies in the high school library.

Nolan explained in May these books were carefully selected as part of the district policy requiring a variety of material, and were also reviewed at the time of purchase.

At the May school board meeting, student representative Owen Webber said he had sent a survey to fellow students, and 75 percent of thel responses were against book banning and censorship. Webber said responses also indicated his peers wanted to learn about history and about LGBTQ issues.

Two parents spoke out during the public comment session of the Sept. 15 meeting, seeking to have the book removed. One said the book is pornographic and deals with pedophilia. The removal would protect students, the parent said.

“Gender Queer” is a graphic memoir that has been a target of conservative groups across the country.

The book contains images and frank discussion about gender identity and sexuality that have generated debates in several Maine school districts, including Buxton-based SAD 6. Nationwide, dozens of schools have pulled it from library shelves.

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