WASHINGTON (CITC) — The author of "Gender Queer" is asserting that the controversial book is not intended for children.
"Gender Queer" has topped the American Library Association's list of most challenged books in recent years. The memoir, which accounts author Maia Kobabe's own exploration of gender identity, has sparked concerns in parents nationwide due to its sexually explicit content.
It has been removed from schools in several states, including Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The New York State Education Department retracted its support of the book after becoming "aware" of its "graphic nature."
Last week, "Gender Queer" was used on the Senate floor as an example to support school book bans. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., read a passage discussing a character trying on a "strap-on harness" to prove that the book's contents are inappropriate for young students.
However, Kobabe says the lawmaker misunderstood the book's target audience.
"'Gender Queer' is a comic, and in full color, but that doesn't mean it's for children," Kobabe said in an interview with The Washington Post Thursday. "I originally wrote it for my parents and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves. I don't recommend this book for kids!"
The author went on to say that Kennedy presented Tuesday's passage without proper context, neglecting to show the accompanying images that "are not salacious at all."
Kobabe has previously stood by the book's explicit contents despite nationwide parental outrage. In a January interview with NPR's "Morning Edition," the author noted that the memoir is "a lot less explicit than it could be."
"The topic of gender touches on identity and touches on sexuality, and it touches on all of these things," Kobabe said in January. "And it's hard to fully explain, I think, how a gender identity can impact every facet of life as an adult without touching at least a little bit on sexuality. And so I wanted to not shy away from that.”
The National Education Association (NEA), the country's largest teachers union, faced backlash this summer for including "Gender Queer" on its recommend reading list for educators. NEA did not explain why it considers the book important for teachers to read.