DIXFIELD — A Regional School Unit 56 committee made up of four administrators and one community member recommended on Tuesday that a book requested this spring to be removed from the Dirigo High School library shelves should remain there.

The book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe is the book that the committee recommends keeping. The panel in its report says “all five committee members found value in the book. No member of the committee felt the book should be banned.”

Committee members DHS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Nick Karavas, RSU 56 Library Media Specialist Cindy Petherbridge, DHS Social Worker Ami-Jo Greco, DHS Social Studies Teacher Kurt Rowley and community member Melanie Prescott reviewed the American Library Association award-winning book and wrote in their report that they found it to be “… a well-researched and accurate resource that has value to a subset of the population at DHS.”

The committee members also wrote, “The RSU 56 policy on the selection of instructional materials also states that it is the responsibility of the school ‘to provide a wide range of materials on all levels of difficulty, with diversity of appeal and the presentation of different points of view.’ Gender Queer meets that criteria.”

And, they said that their “selection aide,” School Library Journal, a monthly magazine for school librarians and media specialists, wrote that “’Gender Queer’ is appropriate for students in ninth grade and up, making its inclusion in a high school setting unremarkable.


… (‘Gender Queer’ is) a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand,” the SLJ states.

Of the three members who submitted requests that the book be banned, Bonnie McKenna, Sara Cole and Elizabeth Kelly, Kelly attended an RSU 56 board of directors’ meeting in May saying that she was “concerned about the appropriateness of (a) book that is in the library,” and requested that it be reviewed.

“I have it in my possession, and I’ve read it,” she said. “It seems to be the diary of a young woman or person who has questioned her gender identity. The book for the most part might be OK, but I found 11 pages that I thought was soft porn.”

Books for the district’s school libraries are ordered through the library media specialist, Superintendent Pam Doyen said. According to district policies, a five-person committee will review the book and write a recommendation on whether the book should remain in the library, she said. If community members disagree with the committee’s findings, they may appeal to the board of directors, who would decide whether it would remain on the shelves, she said.

Commenting on Thursday about the committee’s decision the book should remain on the high school library’s shelves, Doyen said in an email to the Rumford Times that she is “confident that the process outlined by (a school policy) was followed. The five-member committee took their roles and responsibilities seriously. They discussed the book for over two hours prior to making their final recommendation. After the process was completed, members of the committee shared that it was ‘one of the most stimulating, intellectual and engaging conversations they had participated in on a professional level.’”

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for June 28 at Dirigo High School in Dixfield at 6:30 p.m.


Marianne Hutchinson — 207-364-7893, ext. 5207


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