GREENE — A challenge form for “Gender Queer” has been submitted by a Maine School Administrative District 52 parent, Superintendent Cari Medd told the board of directors Thursday night.

A committee has been formed to review the book and evaluate its appropriateness for high school students. Medd said she hopes the review will occur this month.

“Gender Queer” is a graphic novel written by Maia Kobabe, who identifies as nonbinary and asexual.

According to district policy, the committee should “generally be neutral toward viewpoints expressed in materials.” It will be composed of one administrator at the appropriate grade level, one librarian, one classroom teacher, the department head in the subject area of the challenged material and one community member, all appointed by the superintendent.

The committee will provide the superintendent with a written report of their findings and the complainant will be notified of the results. The review committee’s decision may be appealed to the board of directors.

Maine school boards have been split on their view of “Gender Queer.” Jay-based Regional School Unit 73 voted in November to keep the graphic novel in its high school library, while neighboring Dixfield-based RSU 56 voted in August to remove it.


Discussions in both districts and others drew significant input from the community.

In addition, Medd said she is now working with district librarians to create an online opt-out form that would allow parents to restrict the books their children are able to check out of the library.

She acknowledged, however, the system will not likely prevent students from pursuing whichever books they wish at the library.

Before sharing information about the challenge form, six community members shared thoughts about library materials during the meeting’s public comment period. Three people said they had concerns about certain books at the library and the conduct of school officials. Three other people spoke in support.

Christine Duplissis of Leeds was one of the parents who spoke out against some library books. She requested the board affirm its commitment to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.

“It’s rather ironic that this material is acceptable reading for our student population, but as grown adults, we aren’t able to discuss any type of concerning literature,” Duplissis said, referencing a meeting Nov. 10.


At that meeting, Duplissis read an excerpt from a book — “All Boys Aren’t Blue” — at the Leavitt Area High School library in Turner. The excerpt described oral sex between two teenage boys. In response, the board temporarily shut down the meeting.

Duplissis said she, as a parent, recently provided testimony to Maine’s Right to Know Advisory Committee. The committee advises state legislators on Maine’s freedom of information law, the Freedom of Access Act, or FOAA.

“FOAA requests are happening because we don’t trust what goes in the district,” she said.

Those speaking in support of keeping books on shelves included John Nutting of Leeds, a former state legislator for 18 years, and Judith Lashman, the librarian at Leavitt Area High School.

Lashman told the school board the excerpt Duplissis read from “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was misleading, because it was “a compilation of multiple phrases and sentences from the book which have been combined.”

She then read the book’s summary and two reviews from critics in support of the book, finally offering her own opinion.

“The experiences of students aren’t universal,” Lashman said. “‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ fits the district’s policies on selecting books because it fits students’ maturity levels, stimulates critical analysis and fosters respect and appreciation for cultural diversity and varied opinions.”

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