Reverse the Ban of "Gender Queer: A Memoir" Book in Wappingers Central School District

Reverse the Ban of "Gender Queer: A Memoir" Book in Wappingers Central School District

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Mandy Zhang started this petition to Board of Education Wappingers Central School District (WCSD) and

This petition was started by three high schoolers in the Wappingers Central School District, Mandy Zhang ('23) & Enson Xiao ('22) (Roy C. Ketcham High School), and Katelyn Delamater ('23) (John Jay High School (Hopewell Junction, New York)).

Hello! My name is Mandy Zhang and I’m a top-performing 11th-grader at Roy C. Ketcham High School as well as an active leader in my community. I am a member of the Dutchess County Youth Council, so I represent and speak for youth across the county on important issues like racial and gender discrimination, climate change, and mental health. 

Recently, the Wappingers Central School District banned “Gender Queer: a Memoir” Book by Maia Kobabe, first published by Lion Forge in 2019 and now republished from Oni Press. But in recent weeks it has become a hot topic, and targeted as a book to be banned in public libraries and school libraries, generally by people who have not read it.

Queer youth are often forced to look outside their own homes, and outside the education system, to find information on who they are. Removing or restricting queer books in libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who might not yet even know what terms to ask Google to find out more about their own identities, bodies and health.

Last year, the American Library Association agreed, awarding “Gender Queer” its Alex Award. The annual award recognizes 10 books that were originally written for adults but could have “special appeal” for teenagers.

“Kobabe acknowledged that several of the book’s graphic images may not be appropriate for elementary school children. However, the author said the book’s frank accounts are “integral” to showing readers an experience growing up outside of cisgender and heterosexual norms, adding that “we need to reduce the shame” about sex among teenagers.”

"Medical experts and advocates have long warned about the disproportionate rates of mental health issues and suicide among LGBTQ people. But recent research conducted by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, has shown that increased acceptance and affirmation can significantly reduce risk."

While the book raises potential concern for some, we feel it is an important resource for students going through similar experiences in life. It also provides a unique opportunity for students who wish to learn about others and gain empathy. It is a parental duty to determine what is suitable material for their children to enforce those decisions, but it is not appropriate for one parent to determine what is suitable material for all other families and students. In other words, if you don’t want to read the book, don’t check it out. But don’t take away that resource from other students as it could be highly useful for them.

Sincerely,

Mandy Zhang (she/her)

Feel free to reach me at: studentsagainstbookbans@gmail.com

How You Can Help? Please sign this petition and help us reach our signature goal! Share this petition with family and friends across social media, emails, texts, and etc. Email the (district superintendent) dwight.bonk@wcsdny.org, (board president) john.lumia@wcsdny.org, and other board members such as, peggy.kelland@wcsdny.org, keri.cahill@wcsdny.org, marie.johnson@wcsdny.org, john.morgan@wcsdny.org, michael.mcfarland@wcsdny.org, keith.odums@wcsdny.org, eddy.sloshower@wcsdny.org, and james.spencer@wcsdny.org to urge them to reverse the ban!

Helpful Links!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/29/schools-are-banning-my-book-queer-kids-need-queer-stories/

https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-life-and-style/author-gender-queer-one-banned-books-us-addresses-controversy-rcna8991

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/feb/why-queer-literature-is-vital-for-people-growing-up-lgbtq-.html

https://www.wellandgood.com/why-books-should-not-be-banned/#:~:text=When%20we%20ban%20books%2C%20we%20compromise%20children's%20education%20and%20development,they%20actually%20see%20every%20day.

 

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!