Aug 4, 2022 - News

"Gender Queer" book complaint has no standing, Iowa board says

A photo of a person holding up copies of "Gender Queer"

Amanda McClanahan last year shows a page depicting oral sex from "Gender Queer" during a Waukee School Board meeting last year. The district did not remove the book. Screenshot via Waukee Community School District livestream

West Des Moines parent Teri Patrick lacks the legal right to challenge the book "Gender Queer" at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School because her child was not a student at the time she made the complaint, the Iowa Board of Education decided Thursday.

  • The board's decision affirms a recommendation made in July by administrative law judge Thomas Mayes. Patrick "lacks standing" because her child would not be affected by the decision, Mayes concluded.

Why it matters: The decision could lead to big changes in how local schools select materials.

  • Reform is coming if the infrastructure of public education fails to act, Alan Ostergren, Patrick's attorney and the president of the conservative Kirkwood Institute warned board members Thursday.

Catch up fast: The book details the nonbinary author's coming to terms with their sexuality. It includes comic book-style illustrations of oral sex.

  • The West Des Moines school board voted in March to keep the book in its collections after a review committee found the images were taken out of context.

What's happening: The board directed staff to revise the proposed decision to specifically note their vote is limited to the question of jurisdiction.

  • The revision will come before the board again for final approval. Their next meeting is Sept. 15.

Of note: At least six book bans have been requested in the DSM metro, an Axios review published in February showed.

  • Ankeny removed "Gender Queer" from its collection late last year.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more