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Utah Parents United targets LGBTQ books in schools

A group calling itself Utah Parents United calls for parents to call local police if they find any of the nine books they are targeting on social media.

In a video, Brooke Stephens, the curriculum director for UPI, tells parents that if they find a book that they believe is offensive, they should call the police.

“We’re going after the ones where we can get the police on it. Thats’ a big part, we’re going to call the police, we’re going to make police reports,” says Stephens.

Of the nine books, two are being targeted because of LGBTQ content.

“Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” was written in 2014 by Susan Kuklin, who interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and described their sense of identity before, during, and after transitioning. The book has received many awards yet was on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books lists for 2015 and 2019. In 2019 it became the second-most banned book because of its LGBTQIA+ content, “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased.

“Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe is a 2019 graphic novel which discusses sexual orientation and gender identity. The book has been banned by several schools, with critics claiming it had sexually explicit content. Kobabe responded to the controversy by suggesting that the accusers were upset less by the purported sexually explicit content than by the LGBTQ themes of the book. The ALA listed it as one of the most banned or challenged books in 2021.

UPU has also been behind multiple protests against mask mandates in schools and critical race theory in Utah classrooms.

Copies of the nine books were removed from libraries at four high schools in the Canyons School District in response to an email from one parent — Megan McBride Dean of Sandy, Utah — who expressed concerns about the titles she said she learned about through social media videos.

Dean’s Facebook wall is rife with pro-Trump imagery, and her profile image is a graphic saying, “Let God Prevail.” She also supported “Moms Against Masks” and anti-CRT Madeline Kazantzis as a write-in candidate for Utah governor.

The books’ removal appears to violate district policies written in May 2020 on handling complaints against specific titles.

“The material in question will remain in use during the challenge process,” The policy states.

It also says that challenges can only be made by current students, parents who have children at the school in question, or administrators. It also delineates the process for reviewing questionable materials.

Nine-year Brighton High librarian Catherine Bates told the Deseret News that she was “directed” to remove five titles from the shelves of the school’s library “because of content.” She refused.

Less than a week later, she was told the books would come off the shelves whether she was willing to do so or not.

She pulled the books and notified the National Coalition Against Censorship, which wrote in response,”

We ask that the District return all of these books to school libraries until the challenges have been adjudicated and to instruct all District personnel to comply with District policies in the future.”

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