In a video recorded on Oct. 26 by a member of the Orange County chapter of pro-parental rights group Moms for Liberty, a man was ordered to be taken out of the meeting chamber by a police officer after he read from the 2019 graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”
“I’m going to read a passage of a book that’s floating around in your schools that has been banned from many other schools,” said Jacob Engels, the speaker who was removed, according to Orange Observer. “As a member of the LGBT community, the fact that this is floating around for children as young as ninth grade is concerning.”
Engels then read a scene from the book depicting sexual acts before board chairwoman Teresa Jacobs asked him to stop, saying that he was “out of order.”
“If you don’t stop now, we will remove you from the chamber,” Jocob said. She then ordered the man’s removal as he continued to read.
Other community members in the audience can be heard protesting the interruption. “Our kids are reading this,” one man said.
“The language he just read is inappropriate in the forum,” Jocob explained.
“Then why it is appropriate for schools?” asked a woman.
“I understand the contradiction here,” Jocob replied, noting that neither she nor the board were aware of the book. “We will look into it, and I do hope the book is removed. OK? And if not, we’ll be back here having this conversation again, but I can guarantee you, I did not know that book was in the library.”
The school district later confirmed to the Observer that they have taken down all four copies of “Gender Queer” in three of the district’s 22 high schools.
“At this time, the book is not on library shelves and is under review,” the district said in a statement. “If anyone has a concern about materials or books found in our media centers or in our classrooms, Orange County Public Schools has a process in place for parents or guardians to submit a form to the school principal to address a concern.”
The graphic novel, created by California-based cartoonist Maia Kobabe, sparked a controversy earlier this week in Virginia, when conservative advocacy group Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) tried to run a 30-second TV ad containing the same sexual scene that Engels read. Local Virginia TV stations, including ABC, CBS, and NBC, have reportedly refused to air the ad, citing federal law which prohibits airing pornographic images.
“It’s shocking that images, and even some words, that federal law prohibits TV stations to share with adults are the same images being shared with Virginia students with no accountability,” said Victoria Coley, vice president of communications at IWV.
The book was available in schools in several Virginia districts, including in Fairfax, Loudon, and Arlington counties, according to IWV.