The RSU 24 school board decided that two contested books containing LGBTQ content would remain in a section of the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus library designated for high school students. Credit: CBS 13/WGME

Two LGBTQ books will remain in a Sullivan school’s library after being challenged earlier this year.

The two books — “Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens” by Kathy Belge and Mark Bieschke, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe — were removed from the school’s library in January and moved to the guidance counselor’s office. But the decision was appealed, and the school board revisited the books at a Tuesday night meeting.

After discussion about the content, merit and educational value of the books, the RSU 24 school board decided to keep the books in the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus library, the Ellsworth American reported. However, the books would be kept in a section of the library designated for high school students.

A number of board members felt that the information contained in the books were valuable resources for students to learn about safe and healthy sexual behavior and relationships, but the information was more suitable for older students, according to the Ellsworth newspaper.

Currently, the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus library does not have separate sections for books geared toward middle schoolers and books geared toward high school students’ reading levels. The library is also lacking a librarian, the newspaper reported.

The board moved to require that the library be divided into a section for middle school students and a section for high school students, once a librarian is hired.

The board also enacted a new title challenge policy, which will restructure the Material Review Committee to no longer require that a school board member serve on the committee, as well as ensuring that the superintendent has the final say on whether the committee’s decision is adopted.

The new policy also indicates that a signed challenge form is a good faith agreement that the complainant has read the book they are contesting, the Ellsworth American reported.

Kobabe’s book ranks among   the most challenged books available in school and public libraries, according to the American Library Association.

“Gender Queer” also has faced   other challenges, with differing results, in Maine school districts based in Buxton, Dixfield, Turner and Union.   Other school districts in the state have deliberated more generally whether to keep books with gender and sexual content in their libraries.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.