“Banned” Books Week is long past, but efforts to push sexually explicit material on young children and misinformation about the availability of these books are not. As we round out our “banned” book series this year, let’s take a look at a few discouraging examples.

#1. The Anchorage School District provides elementary students with the book, “Wait, what?: a comic guide to relationships, bodies, and growing up.” The guide encourages children to draw genitals and includes explicit graphics.

#2. A new trend among fad-chasing school board members is being sworn in on explicit books. Earlier this December, Karen Smith, president of the Central Bucks County, Pennsylvania school district, was sworn in on a pile of “banned” books. “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which details sexual encounters between young cousins and between college students, was in the stack.

The Pennsylvania school district went on to stop a policy that forbids materials with “sexualized content” from entering school textbooks and classroom materials. Don’t forget that limiting children’s exposure to  sexual content in schools’ textbooks and materials doesn’t mean these books are “banned.” They are still available at bookstores, public libraries, and online. Alarmingly, the district also ended a policy that included a process to challenge books.

#3. Fairfax School Board member Karl Frisch quickly followed in Smith’s footsteps. Frisch was sworn in with “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” as well as “Gender Queer,” which contains graphic images of masturbation, sexting, and blow jobs.

#4. Problematic legislation passed in Illinois and will be implemented in 2024. Under the new law, HB 2789, the state will cut funding unless libraries adopt either the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or some other written statement prohibiting the practice of “banning” books or other materials. Again, these books are not “banned” just because they are inappropriate for young children and unavailable in school libraries. This legislation opens the door for sexually explicit material to be pushed on children. Other states, like New York and Pennsylvania, have introduced similar legislation. 

#5. On the federal level, Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) has introduced the “Books Save Lives Act.” The bill would require federally funded libraries and schools to “maintain a diverse collection of books.” This sounds great on paper, but practically it could force schools and libraries to have sexually explicit books in their stacks.

Representative Pressley proposed the legislation with a poster of books like “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy”—both sexually graphic books. 

Maia Kobabe, the author of “Gender Queer,” has supported the bill, declaring, “I support the Books Save Lives Act because I want future young people to see themselves and their world reflected fully and accurately in their libraries.”

However, earlier this year, Kobabe told The Washington Post, “‘Gender Queer’ is a comic, and in full color, but that doesn’t mean it’s for children. I originally wrote it for my parents, and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves. I don’t recommend this book for kids!”

These five discouraging examples further reiterate the need for parents to continue to speak out in 2024 for the sake of their children.

Independent Women’s Forum is exposing inappropriate and ideologically indoctrinating books found in K-12 schools through the “Book Bans” Debunked blog series. If you want to see the books in your children’s school library, search here.