The National Education Association (NEA) is recommending that educators read “Gender Queer,” a controversial memoir in the form of a graphic novel that contains sexually explicit content and discussion of adult topics.
“I honestly think the book is a lot less explicit than it could be,” Kobabe said. The book details the author’s self-exploration of gender identity and sexuality.
"Gender Queer" has topped the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of most challenged books in the country in recent years.
Another controversial book on the NEA’s summer reading list for educators is “White Fragility,” which explores “why White people are so bad at talking about racism,” according to the NEA. The book promotes the ideology of critical race theory, a Marxist framework that claims America is systemically racist.
The NEA’s decision has attracted criticism online.
“This is who we’re up against in our fight against indoctrination in K–12 classrooms,” Nicki Neily, founder of the nonprofit Parents Defending Education, said in a July 4 tweet about the NEA’s inclusion of "Gender Queer" on its recommended reading list.
Charlie Kirk, conservative activist and founder of nonprofit Turning Point USA, said in a July 6 tweet that the NEA was endorsing "racist anti-white screeds" and graphic sexual imagery.
LGBT Indoctrination at Schools"Gender Queer" was first published in May 2019. It won multiple awards, including the Alex Award from the ALA in 2020 for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.”
The book was also selected as the Stonewall-Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book in 2020.
As school librarians began to stock the book, parents began to call for its removal. In September 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia pulled the book from libraries. A Florida school district soon followed. Other schools in New Jersey, Ohio, Washington, Texas, and Rhode Island also saw challenges against the book.
“If it’s illegal for a neighbor to show this to my child, why should it be legal for a teacher to show it to my child?” she asked.
Another parent, Jennifer Heine-Withee, told The Epoch Times that parents are “concerned about both the theme and content of the books they are finding in their kid’s school library. … This is a widespread agenda to indoctrinate children, and it is being fought on several fronts.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin criticized the NEA for including "Gender Queer" in the reading list for educators.
“The challenge we've got today is that there have been politicians and bureaucrats and the teachers associations and unions who believe that they are more important in kids lives than parents," Youngkin said.