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Carmel Clay School Board narrowly rejects ban on controversial LGBTQ+ book

Effort to remove controversial book from Carmel Clay Schools fails

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The Carmel Clay School Board voted 3-2 not to remove a queer memoir from school libraries during a contentious meeting Monday night.

In “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” author Charles M. Johnson talks about his life growing up as a queer Black man in New Jersey and Virginia through a series of essays.

Under a law passed in 2023, Hoosiers can ask a school district to review and potentially remove a book they think is inappropriate for children.

Cindy Black filed the complaint. She claims “All Boys Aren’t Blue” contains graphic sexual content, including statutory rape and sexual assault.

“As you ponder the literary merit of this book, together with its graphic content and racist comments, I would ask you to consider the works of another American author, when speaking to the need of quality literature in our schools, a man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who does not read at all,” she said during Monday’s meeting.

Janine Zee-Cheng says critics took the graphic nature of the book out of context: “The purpose of pornography is intentional sexual stimulation. This book is a memoir, it does not sell stimulation. Does it describe abuse and trauma and the results of that abuse and trauma? Yes, it does.”

A committee assigned to review the book recommended it not be removed from the library.

Board Member Louise Jackson said although the content is graphic, the overall message is important for students to hear.

“I am also deeply heartbroken that some of us are unable to open our hearts and minds to the experience of someone different,” she said.

According to the American Library Association, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” was the second most challenged book nationwide in 2023.