A Georgia school district that recently fired a teacher for reading her students a book about gender identity has banned two books from its schools, WXIA-TV reports.
The Cobb County School District, which operates more than 100 schools in north central Georgia, pulled Mike Curato’s Flamer and Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl from school library shelves.
Curato’s 2020 graphic novel follows a biracial queer teenager who endures bullies, and Andrews’ novel tells the story of a teen who befriends a girl battling leukemia. Both have been targets of book challenges and bans in schools and libraries throughout the U.S., with each of them showing up on the American Library Association’s most recent list of the most banned books in the country.
A spokesperson for the district told WXIA-TV that the books were removed because of sexual content.
"We removed the books immediately, are in an ongoing investigation, and are committed to ensuring our students are taught with content in line with Georgia standards, Board policy and the Law," the spokesperson said.
The removal of the books follows the firing of Katie Rinderle, a fifth-grade teacher who lost her job after reading her students Scott Stuart’s My Shadow Is Purple, a book about a child who is gender fluid.
The literary nonprofit PEN America condemned Rinderle’s firing, with the group’s Jonathan Friedman saying, “Every child deserves to be joyfully represented in their classroom and with their peers, and every educator deserves a space to teach without fear of censure or termination for exercising their professional judgment.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.