Explicit graphic novel to stay put in Bow High School library

Clark-Moores student honored for artwork, dedication

Nov. 28—The principal of Bow High School said he was concerned when he first saw explicit sexual images in a graphic novel that is available to any student in the school’s library collection, but he softened his view after reading the work.

Facebook posts by conservatives, most notably Manchester Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur, have drawn attention to the Bow High library and the availability of the 2019 work “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe. The work focuses on a teen dealing with gender identity issues.

His drawings feature male genitalia and two people engaged in oral sex. The American Library Association said it was the most challenged book of 2021.

Bow High Principal Brian O’Connell said he reviewed the book after receiving an email from a parent who was concerned about the images.

“My initial reaction was I could see the concern,” O’Connell said. He read it over a weekend and came away with a different outlook. It takes on a different feeling when the story is placed in context, he said.

“At this point, I’m comfortable with it in the library,” O’Connell said. The school has a process to challenge library material, and he informed the parents of the steps to take.

He has not received a formal challenge.

Two days after the Nov. 8 election, Levasseur posted some of the explicit content on his Facebook page.

“As an elected city official I feel I have an obligation to show this. If it can be in a library I don’t know why it can’t be here (in his feed) for people to see,” he said. In his post, he said he did not know if the book was in the library of Manchester city schools.

An internet search earlier this month showed the book was not in the online catalog of the three Manchester public high schools, or those of Concord, Bedford, Londonderry, Merrimack or Pinkerton Academy in Derry.

The Goffstown High School library catalog is not available online. The book is available at the Manchester City Library and just about all town libraries in the area.

“This book is in the High School here in Bow,” said Bow resident Ryan Johnston, who posted the explicit content on his Facebook page. “This is porn. The school is grooming.”

He said he posted about it in a town group, and no one was concerned about it.

At Bow High School, the book has been checked out fewer than 10 times in the three years it has been in the collection, O’Connell said. He said he is aware of the Internet chatter.

“Interestingly, it hasn’t drawn much attention in the school,” O’Connell said.

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