DIXFIELD — The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance has raised more than $3,000 in an online fundraising campaign to purchase copies of a controversial book recently banned by the Regional School Unit 56 board of directors.

“Gender Queer: A Memoir,” written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe, was removed from the Dirigo High School library following a 7-2 vote Aug. 9. The 2019 publication recounts Kobabe’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and the author’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality, according to multiple online sources.

The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance provides a community and support for Maine writers, editors and publishers. Founded in 1975, it is based in Portland.

According to the organization’s gofundme page, it is accepting donations to buy copies of “Gender Queer” from Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington. The store will give free copies to Dirigo High School students who request them. As of Wednesday, the group has raised $3,401, more than three times its goal of $1,000.

Taryn Bowe, associate director of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance said this is the first time the organization has created a fundraiser for a banned book. After seeing a Sun Journal article in the Portland Press Herald, Bowe said members were “really struck” by the fact that the book was initially approved by directors and they had found the book “could be valuable and that it was an accurate portrayal of just growing up for some people,” Bowe said.

After strong opposition from parents and community members and three written appeals of the board’s decision, directors reversed course.


“That really struck us, because it’s a book that’s won awards, it’s a book that’s been recognized as actually being a valuable contribution and (a) cool, great story,” she said.

Bowe noted that part of the alliance’s mission is to represent all Maine writers, readers and publishers, including LGBTQ writers, readers and publishers.

“And so, we just believe that having a diverse array of books out there and available in libraries is really important,” she said. “It makes us better readers, writers, learners and people. And it’s what a library is all about.”

Asked her thoughts about parents saying they, not school officials, should teach children about matters of sexuality and gender, Bowe said, “By the time someone reaches high school, you know, they should be able to walk into a library and if a book appeals to them or doesn’t they should be able to make an informed choice about that.

“But this is something that affects a whole school worth of kids. … I don’t believe that parents should make decisions for all of children based on what they feel is important for their one child,” she said.

RSU 56 directors plan to release their written decision at the Aug. 23 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Dirigo High School.

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