Right-wing effort to ban LGBTQ books in Chicago school backfires after students fight back

On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that a push by right-wing activists to remove a book about gender identity from the library of a public school in Chicago blew up in their face when students showed up to defend the book.

"Conservatives lined up to demand that Gender Queer — a coming-of-age book about gender identity — be pulled from the library at Downers Grove District 99 High School, where only two copies are reportedly accessible for a student population of nearly 5,000," reported Brooke Leigh Howard. "However, students called BS on complaints that the book peddles pornography and sexually explicit content. Instead, they turned the tables on what they said were attacks on homosexuality and free speech."

According to the report, the discussion grew heated between the adults trying to ban the book and the students supporting its inclusion.

"Terry Newsome, a father who had two kids at Downers, said that his issue with the book is that it's 'liberal code for teaching children how to perform oral sex, anal sex, wear strap-on dildos. These graphic images are totally unacceptable regardless of their gender or sexuality,'" said the report. "But Lauren Pierret, a senior at Downers Grove North, argued that plenty of books in schools' libraries include sexual content, including The Handmaid's Tale, but they do not receive the same backlash. 'Let's not present getting rid of Gender Queer as censoring our children from sex,' Pierret told the meeting ... 'It's homophobia.'"

Ultimately, according to the report, the district superintendent sided with the students, saying that it met the library's guidelines and noting that it wasn't even required reading by any class at the school.

This controversy comes as Republicans around the country side with activists trying to ban books in schools. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed on to efforts to eradicate "pornography" from school libraries, and Republican Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin used a campaign ad featuring a right-wing mother who was seeking to have a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning Black author Toni Morrison pulled from shelves. One group in Tennessee calling itself "Moms for Liberty" has gone even further and wants a book with "sexy" pictures of seahorses banned.