South Carolina governor wrongly calls award-winning LGBTQ book ‘pornographic’ in attempt to ban it

South Carolina governor wrongly calls award-winning LGBTQ book ‘pornographic’ in attempt to ban it

As the battle against whether or not critical race theory should be taught in schools continues nationwide, some Republicans are also targeting the LGBTQ community. After attacking a Florida school board member for escorting a group of elementary school students on a field trip to a local LGBTQ-friendly restaurant, conservatives have taken to attacking LGBTQ books. Across the country, conservatives are demanding a ban on inclusive books that talk about the queer experience, not only in schools but also in public libraries.

In the most recent incident of conservative calls to ban, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster demanded his state’s Department of Education remove a book about gender identity from school shelves.

“We’re going to remove things that cause harm to our children or put obstacles in their path as they grow up,” McMaster told reporters Thursday.

McMaster wrongfully claimed the book is “obscene and pornographic” because it speaks of a journey to self-identity and includes illustrations of LGBTQ sexual experiences.

The book in question is the award-winning title, Gender Queer: A Memoir. On Wednesday, McMaster sent a letter to Department of Education Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, demanding it be investigated alongside other similar books to “prevent” such books from becoming available in the state’s school libraries, NBC News reported.

“For sexually explicit materials of this nature to have ever been introduced or allowed in South Carolina’s schools, it is obvious that there is or was either a lack of, or a breakdown in, any existing oversight processes or the absence of appropriate screening standards,” McMaster wrote in the letter.

According to NBC News, LGBTQ advocates condemned McMaster’s calls to ban the book, noting it was a “political attack.”

“We need to be focused on issues that are actually impacting students right now — getting education back on track after the loss of learning from the pandemic, addressing young people’s health concerns, and ensuring that everyone feels safe and welcome in school,” Ivy Hill, community health program director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement to NBC News.

McMaster’s efforts to ban books that address LGBTQ issues follow other government and school officials attempting to do the same, including Texas, Virginia, Ohio, and New Jersey.

According to NPR, in Texas, both Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas state Rep. Jeff Cason called on books to be investigated for “pornographic or obscene material.” But LGBTQ related books were not the only issue for these Texans; Matt Krause, another lawmaker in the state, also identified at least 850 that should be questioned, including books written by women, people of color, and LGBTQ authors.

Outside of banning in Virginia, some officials have even threatened to burn books that go against their backward views.

This specific book is part of the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of the country’s “most challenged books” and had appeared on multiple ban lists across state lines. The director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, told NBC News that while challenges against books with LGBTQ content have been historically “constant,” the association has seen a rapid increase in calls to ban books this year.

“I’ve worked at ALA for two decades now, and I’ve never seen this volume of challenges come in,” Caldwell-Stone said. “The impact will fall to those students who desperately want and need books that reflect their lives, that answer questions about their identity, about their experiences that they always desperately need and often feel that they can’t talk to adults about.”

“The library becomes that safe space where they can get accurate information about these topics that they can’t otherwise find,” she added.

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