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Warning: This post contains sexually explicit material that is not appropriate for children.

The book Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele is available in the Grand Haven High School library. This book was reviewed by GHAPS employees and determined to be appropriate for the high school library.

This book seeks to explain the history of sexuality and gender study through detailed descriptions from psychologists, sexologists and biologists. In addition to describing the work of scientists, the book introduces the idea of Queer Theory. If you are familiar with the idea of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory will be very easy to understand. All that is necessary is to replace the word Race with the word Queer. The resulting theory is referred to as Critical Queer Theory or just Queer Theory.

Critical theory is a Marxist concept which seeks to divide people based on a characteristic which is often beyond their control. This is done by creating a group of oppressed people and a group of oppressors. In the context of this book, all queer people are oppressed by all straight people. The result for anyone reading this book is to either become angered if they identify as queer, or develop a sense of guilt if they identify as straight.

Here are some examples from the book:

p. 7 – Queer is a term of abuse

p. 12 - queer… most marginalized…, Our priorities are often very different to those of the white, middle-class…

p. 18 – Might current moral panics about online porn be seen as bizarre in a century’s time as anti-masturbation devices do today? ( – this statement seeks to make those against masturbation oppressors, and those in favor of masturbation victims – Critical Theory)

p.43 – unexamined privilege, white women

p.44 – All forms of sexuality are related to social power

p.45 – portrays heterosexual couples as boring and old-fashioned

p.88 – The guilt and shame of recognizing that your privilege is founded on the suffering of others and that you’ll have to give some of it up in order to address that.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with Critical Theory, the sexually explicit content makes this book is entirely inappropriate for children. There are references to pedophilia, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, lesbian sex, male homosexual sex, bondage and discipline sex, dominance and submission sex, sado-masochism sex, sodomy, prostitution, on-line pornography, and group sex. This book is effectively suggestive, exposes children to sexually explicit material, encourages exploration, and seeks to groom children for future sexual acts.

p. 19 – (normalizes sodomy)

p. 20 – (seeks to make all sex normal –) Early sexology cemented the idea that there are good and bad kinds of sex, not just a diverse range of possible practices and attractions.

p.20 – PIV vs Oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital (PIV was defined early in the book to mean penis in vagina sex)

p.37 – (normalizing and grooming –) In addition to revealing that masturbation, sex outside marriage and diverse sexual practices were far more common than were previously assumed, Kinsey also found that…

p.41 – (encourages androgyny –) It was actually better for people to be androgynous.

In addition to the text, the book contains many sketches containing sexual content inappropriate for children. I have copied several of them below.

Humor me for a second and picture a teenage boy holding this book. Do you think they are more likely to sit down and read this book or flip through the pages and giggle? Adults have said they had a difficult time digesting the material in this book because it is written at such a high level. How do you think a 14 year old child will respond to this book?

Rather than provide positive role models for children questioning their gender and/or sexuality, this book does a better job of encouraging them to explore sexually, and grooms them for future sexual encounters. It is entirely inappropriate for children.

Grand Haven High School and Central High School librarian Dana Rider, Lakeshore and White Pines librarian Sarah McElrath and Instructional Services Educational Director Mary Jane Evink reviewed this book.

The non-fiction book is academic in nature with a thorough explanation of queer theory and attributions to its contributors. The detailed language is at a high level with dense ideas and vocabulary. It is a critical theory, meaning it offers many explanations of why people might be queer. Often the theories are contradictory. The authors remain neutral throughout the text, not proselytizing for any person or group. The book is not erotic. It helps/attempts to explain the what and why of queer theory. Drawings of sex or gender are intended to clarify and enhance the text, not to entertain or degrade, arouse or persuade. The author is balanced and fair, referring to heteronormativity as neither good nor bad. The book encourages discourse and analysis, encouraging objective questions.

Shockingly, it has been determined that this book is appropriate for the Grand Haven High School library.

If you have an issue with a lesson or book your child has been exposed to at GHAPS that you would like to share with us, please email us at – Please provide as much information as possible such as school, grade, subject, teacher, title of material, photos of material if applicable and your issue. Thank you.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg John Barker

  • A historical account of the foundations and formulation of modern queer theory

  • This book contains alternate sexualities; alternate gender ideologies; and controversial racial and social commentary.

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