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Maine school district to vote on second proposed book ban

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

BUXTON, Maine — The book "Gender Queer: A Memoir" is making waves again in school districts in Maine. It started earlier this summer when RSU 56 in Dixfield banned the book from its library.

"Gender Queer" is about a nonbinary person discovering identity. Opponents of the book said its themes are too sexual for children under 18. Proponents of the book said it offers children a chance to learn about identity from a vetted author.

At MSAD 6, which covers towns like Buxton and Standish, a select few parents have made noise that the book, which the district has one copy of at Bonny Eagle High School, should be banned.

On Monday night, community members had a chance to voice their opinions on the book, which Superintendent Clay Gleason said as of earlier this summer, was only checked out of the library one time.

RELATED: 'It's Perfectly Normal' will not be banned at Maine school district

"I wouldn't say it's about sex, there is a little bit of sexual content in it, but it's really about a personal journey of self discovery," Gibson Fay LeBlanc, the executive director of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance said. "I have two teenagers... I've told my teenagers they can read it if they want to."

Fay LeBlanc 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.

"There is no question that books around the country are being banned, those are LGBTQ-themed and books about race... I think it tells you a lot about the why... those issues are being used to stoke fear in a lot of communities," LeBlanc said.

At MSAD 6, the efforts to appeal "Gender Queer" and last month's unsuccessful push to ban "It's Perfectly Normal," were officially appealed by school board candidates who lost their elections in June.

RELATED: MSAD 6 may be next to remove books on gender, sexual identity from school library

Eric Bleicken and Vicki Shane both live in the district, but it's unknown if they have children in schools. Bleicken told NEWS CENTER Maine his granddaughter goes to Bonny Eagle. 

Bleicken authored the appeal for "It's Perfectly Normal" and his name is at the top of the list for the "Gender Queer" appeal.

After the two lost their respective school board elections, the Facebook page named after their joint campaign had its name changed to "Education Revolution," where posts detail complaints for "Gender Queer."

Neither Bleicken nor Shane replied to Facebook messages asking for comment. 

Superintendent Clay Gleason said that as long as someone lives in the district, social media organizing to gather support for school board items is fair game.

"It is a factor, but it's a fact if they live in our district... they can, our policy applies to them so they are someone who can challenge that material," Gleason said.

RELATED: Maine school poster explaining gender identity faces backlash

Gleason said that after hearing public comment Monday evening, the board will review the book and have a vote at the meeting on October 3.

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