A group of conservative Texas legislators recently sent a letter to school district officials asking them to pledge to not buy books from vendors that sell “pornography” and to ban “obscene” books from school book collections.
The letter, penned by Republican state Rep. Jared Patterson and signed by 26 Republican state legislators, was sent out on March 2.”
In his letter, Patterson specifically mentioned Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir” as an example of the type of books that children had been inappropriately exposed to in schools.
“Both local districts and the Legislature will be working diligently on policies to prevent such books from being allowed on campus in the future,” the legislator wrote in the letter. “However, we also acknowledge school districts have a lot [of] power in the market when purchasing books and that if we stand together against explicit materials for children, book vendors will be forced to adjust.”
“Gender Queer: A Memoir,” published on May 28, 2019, follows Kobabe’s personal struggles with gender identity and sexual orientation. The author, who uses the Spivak pronouns e/em/eir, also incorporated graphic illustrations depicting oral sex that caused outrage among parents and state leaders, including Governor Greg Abbott, who called the novel “pornography.”
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Patterson reiterated Abbott’s description of Kobabe’s novel in his letter. The Houston Chronicle attempted to reach all 28 Republicans who signed the letter, asking them how they would define “pornography,” but only four of them responded.
Patterson, Rep. Dustin Burrows and Rep. Matt Shaheen all reportedly failed to describe pornography and instead referred to the Texas laws on “obscenity” in their reply.
“Texas Penal Code Sec. 43.21. defines obscene materials as ‘patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, and sexual bestiality,’” Shaheen said.
Shaheen also gave an example of what he considered “obscene” materials by describing a graphic scene from the fantasy series “Goblin Slayer,” in which women are raped by demons. It was unclear if the legislator was referring to the novel series created by Kumo Kagyu or Kōsuke Kurose’s manga adaptation of the same name, both of which were licensed by Yen Press.
He also referenced Kobabe’s novel in his reply, describing, “Little boys performing sexual acts on each other.”
“Anyone who believes this is acceptable is mentally ill. We will be going after the vendors that sold this trash to Texas children,” Shaheen said.
An anime adaptation of “Goblin Slayer” had reportedly caused controversy during its release in Japan in 2018 – the scene that Shaheen was referring to was included in the first episode of the series.