Petition to reverse book ban in the Wappingers Central School District gains traction
A petition to reverse a book ban in the Wappingers Central School District is gaining training.
"Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe was banned after a vote by the district's school board on March 14.
The book is fully illustrated and focuses on gender identity and the hardships of coming out.
A petition was started by high school students in the district last week to reverse the book ban and has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
"I feel that LGBTQ representation in books is important," said Mandy Zhang, an 11th grade student at Ketcham High School.
Zhang helped launch the petition and said she feels the book is an important resource for both LGBTQ students and those who want to learn more about their experiences.
The book is the most challenged book at public schools across the country, according to the American Library Association.
The ALA recently released a report that shows there is an unprecedented wave of public schools banning books, mostly by marginalized authors.
"I feel that book banning is becoming an epidemic," said Zhang.
In this case, the complaint in Wappingers Central School District was filed by Pat Whalen, who states on her complaint she is with the groups Concerned Parents and Grandparents and Moms for Liberty.
Whalen states she did not read the book but objects to the content calling it "inappropriate for school aged children."
A review committee examined the book and district Superintendent Dr. Dwight Bonk gave his approval to remove it from the library stating that while he "has no objection to either the ideas or messages of the book, the book does contain several extremely graphic, sexually explicit images depicting sexual acts."
Zhang said despite these concerns she feels the book should be made available for high school students.
Superintendent Bonk released a statement to News 12 saying, "The mission of the Wappingers Central School District is to empower all of our students with the competencies and confidence to challenge themselves, to pursue their passions, and to realize their potential while growing as responsible members of their community."