CHASKA, Minn. — It could have been a war of words, but instead it was a collective call from the community to keep a book on the shelves.
"Gender Queer: a Memoir" By Maia Kobabe has become the most challenged book in the United States, according to the American Library Association.
In July, a Waconia woman raised concerns about the book which detailed the author's gender identity journey. She then went on to file a request for removal which was at first denied, but after another appeal, the board discussed the book further during a meeting Tuesday night. Dozens packed the usually-empty meeting to make their voices heard on the issue.
"Book banning has never ended up on the right side of history," Carver County resident Ellen Bean said to the board.
"I personally read 'Gender Queer.' I learned a lot," said another speaker.
Erin Busse, the woman who advocated for its removal, did not speak during the meeting. During a meeting on Aug. 8, she described her concerns with the book saying, "This book is shameful and harmful, and to put it and allow it to be in the hands of children is sexual grooming."
Parents disagreed Tuesday. One resident said, "If you don't like it, don't read it. If it makes you uncomfortable, maybe you should examine why that is."
This was the first time the Carver County Library Board considered removing a book. Nationwide, attempts are on the rise. The American Library Association says there were almost 1,300 demands to remove library books last year, the highest ever in its 20 year recording history. In Minnesota, 22 demands were made with "Gender Queer" being the top title for removal.
By the end of the meeting, the demand was unanimously denied by the board who had all read the book over the last month.
"I was really quite amazed at how touching I found the book. I found it really, quite moving and also extremely informative," Secretary Frank Foss said.
"Gender Queer" will remain in the adult-fiction section in Carver County.
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