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Galesburg-Augusta schools considers removing ‘Gender Queer’ from its high school library

Superintendent Wendy Maynard-Somers for Augusta-Galesburg School District wears a white blazer, a floral shirt and dark pants and looks to the woman next to her whose wearing blue.
Leona Larson
Augusta-Galesburg school Superintendent Wendy Maynard-Somers at school board meeting on April 17.

Last month a school librarian accused the district of breaking its own rules for reviewing books. Now the school board has heard public comments and discussed next steps.

A committee will begin reviewing whether the graphic memoir "Gender Queer," by author Maia Kobabe, stays on the shelves at Galesburg-Augusta High School, district superintendent Wendy Maynard-Somers said Monday.

Last month a district librarian said administrators had effectively pulled the book from circulation after they received a complaint. That’s even though books are supposed to stay in on the shelves pending a committee’s review.

Superintendent Wendy Maynard-Somers said administrators merely checked the book out. But the school librarian, Jarrod Kauffman, confirmed it is still not on the shelf. Maynard-Somers also invited people to “borrow” it, but did not explain how to do that if the book is not in the library.

Despite that alleged inconsistency with board policy, on Monday Kauffman said he was satisfied with the board's actions.

“My goal was for the book to be listened to. The community, the media listened to. And the policy followed. And that's exactly what's happening,” Kauffman said.

Members and supporters of Southwest Michigan’s LGBTQ community also attended the meeting. Tracy Hall is the director of the nonprofit LGBTQ rights group OutFront Kalamazoo.

“We can't change what's happening in there. We don't have the power, but we can show up for the young queer people,” said Tracy Hall, the director of the nonprofit LGBTQ rights group OutFront Kalamazoo.

She said she expects the committee to make its final recommendation to the school board in May.

Leona has worked as a journalist for most of her life - in radio, print, television and as journalism instructor. She has a background in consumer news, special projects and investigative reporting.