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Maine school district votes against proposal to ban 'Gender Queer: A Memoir'

The school board voted 10-1 against the book's removal.

BUXTON, Maine — After contentious debate, the MSAD 6 school board voted 10-1 against the proposed removal of "Gender Queer: A Memoir" Monday evening. 

The single vote to remove the book came from board member Julie Anderson, who also voted to remove "It’s Perfectly Normal" last month.

The decision was the second proposed book ban for the district, following a vote of 10-1 against the removal of "It's Perfectly Normal" on Sept. 6

"Gender Queer: A Memoir" is a story of a nonbinary person finding identity. Some MSAD 6 community members said the content is inappropriate for children.

Prior to Monday's debate, a handful of community members said they faced harassment regarding their support of keeping the book

Kris Carver, a father at MSAD 6, said he showed up to Monday's meeting representing his wife, who received threats over her support for "Gender Queer."

Facebook messages detailing her name were added to a list of "groomers." She was advised to stay home from the meeting.

"At this point, we're going to have to start standing up and not allow ourselves to be taken backwards when we're trying to go forwards," Carver said. "It's all getting to dangerous levels."

Kate McDonald rallied to keep "Gender Queer" in the school's library and is the mother of two children at Bonny Eagle High School. 

She told NEWS CENTER Maine in late September she received several messages against her efforts to create a petition in support of the book. 

"They posted information about who I am. They accused me of using sock puppet accounts, telling people what I am and who I am," McDonald said.

Additionally, MSAD 6 teacher's union told NEWS CENTER Maine it was aware of several teachers receiving harassing messages prior to the school board's decision. 

During Monday's school board meeting, board chair Nathan Carlow issued a statement on behalf of the board, to address the harassment.

"On social media, this third group has set their scope on school employees and have implicitly asked its followers to influence, extort and harass members of our community," Carlow said.

He is referring to two social media groups, a Facebook group started by school board candidates who lost their elections in June, and another conservative podcaster that announced contact info for its followers.

While the Facebook group said it does not align with its followers who harass others, the conservative podcaster told NEWS CENTER Maine it released contact info because it's already public information.

Earlier this summer, the book was banned from RSU 56 in Dixfield. 

Gibson Fay LeBlanc, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance said the nonprofit raised several thousand dollars to provide free copies of "Gender Queer" to students at RSU 56 when the school board there banned the book.

Neither "Gender Queer: A Memoir" nor " It's Perfectly Normal" are required reading for students in MSAD 6. 

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