Books under review, taken from shelves

Madelyn Comstock, Staff Writer

Following a parent complaint at the PUSD Board Meeting, Sept. 8, two graphic novels in PUSD libraries, Gender Queer and Fun Home have been placed under review for sexual content.

The parent, Rachelle Babler, claimed the books “contain images and content deemed pornographic or age inappropriate.” She also mentioned in the board meeting that the books, “are not only unlawful but violate basic notions of morality.”

Gender Queer follows the author, Maia Kobabe, through adolescence and struggles with self identity. Fun Home is also a memoir that records the author, Alison Bechdel’s, journey of discovering her father’s and her own sexuality. According to the Associate Superintendent Carol Osborne, both novels have been checked out by district officials and principals to review their content and determine whether they will be returned to district libraries.

Few reviews have taken place in recent years. Osborne said that in her five years as associate superintendent, only one other book had been placed under review.

The policy for reviewing library materials is listed under administrative regulation 6163.1. A review committee consisting of a district office administrator, a school site administrator, students, parents, a certified librarian, an elementary school library media technician, and teachers met to review the content of the graphic novels, Oct. 20. The school board is not involved in the process.

As of Nov. 9, our request for the final resolution has not been answered.

Westview Teacher Librarian Cheri Tomboc-Brownlie addressed the book review publicly at the PUSD Board Meeting, Oct. 13.

Tomboc-Brownlie expressed concern about removing books from the library, stating that during a book review, the books must remain available until a decision is made. Currently, these books are unavailable in PUSD libraries.

According to Tomboc-Brownlie, Fun Home was donated by a now-retired teacher, and after reading the trusted professional journals and book lists, she decided to add it to the library. She also chose to include in because of the LGBTQ+ representation it would add to the library.

“It is my responsibility to provide a diverse, balanced, and high-quality collection representing all points of view on controversial issues,” she said. “Young people deserve to see themselves reflected in their libraries’ books.”