Concerned community members speak during Canutillo ISD board meeting over book at High School Library

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CANUTILLO, Texas (KTSM) – During Monday night’s Canutillo School Board meeting, several people spoke during public comment expressing their concerns about a book called “Gender Queer” that is available to students at Canutillo High School.

This was the third time concerns have been brought up to the board regarding what speakers call “pornographic” images in the book.

“You litter our libraries with pornographic books,” said Elizabeth Perez to the board. Perez is a first-grade teacher in CISD and has been for 32 years.

Heather Taylor, a mother of three in the Canutillo District, also got up to speak.

“I am completely against it, it is strictly pornography,” said Taylor. “If all the parents knew about this you wouldn’t be able to fit them all in here.”

Another mother who has a 16-year-old daughter who attends Canutillo High School tells the board “I used to be a proud Canutillo mom until I saw the images in this book being promoted in our library.” said Eileen Macias.

The Associate Superintendent of the district Marnie Rocha also got up to speak, saying she was speaking for LGBTQ+ students.

“I speak for the voice of the students who are too afraid to come here tonight because they fear that they will be mocked or retaliated against,” said Marnie Rocha the Associate Superindent of CISD.

Rocha asked that the book be read in its entirety before a decision is made.

“Please know that I am not here to defend the book, but neither am I here to burn the book instead I am asking that the book that is being discussed in open forum get due process, that all voices be heard. That this book be read in its entirety before being judged,” said Rocha.

After Rocha finished speaking people sitting in the crowd yelled out “it’s pornography, no to pornography!”

The author of the book, Maia Kobabe wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Washington Post titled “Schools are banning my book. But queer kids need queer stories.”

Following the community’s comments about the book, CISD Board President Sergio Coronado said the book is in the process of going through policies. He added legal council has been asked to provide documentation on the law regarding the book.

“We will follow the process at a future board meeting this will be brought up to the board as necessary, if it is necessary and the board will deal with policies, with respect to both legal and local policies,” said Coronado.

Board Trustee Laure Searls spoke with KTSM 9 News following the meeting ,but expressed that she was only able to speak to us as a community member and not a board member.

“As a board… no, as a citizen I have not been told anything that would happen, I’ve been left in limbo. And I don’t find that enough, this book is horrible for children” said Searls.

Canutillo Independent School District sent KTSM the following statement:

“Canutillo Independent School District is a public institution that serves a diverse student body population. On October 26, 2021, Canutillo ISD received a challenge for a book titled: Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe. The district is following protocol according to policy EF local.  In addition, books belonging to a public high school library are protected under the U.S. Constitution.  Pending the results of the book challenge, the novel is being withheld from circulation.  

The district allows parents who do not want their child to read a book in the library’s collection to contact the school librarian and place a “do not check out” note which will withhold the book from their child.

School districts rely on librarians’ expertise, professional judgment, and school library journals when purchasing books.  The book in question was listed in the School Library Journal as one of the best books of 2019.”

Statement from Canutillo Indpendent School District

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