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‘This Book is Gay’ returned to Iowa City secondary school libraries
Book was temporarily removed after two bomb threats at Northwest Junior High School
IOWA CITY — “This Book is Gay” was returned to Iowa City schools libraries after going through a reconsideration committee last month.
The book, available in some of the district’s secondary school libraries, was temporarily removed after two bomb threats were called in to Northwest Junior High School in March.
The bomb threats — which investigators determined were not credible — were part of a nationwide effort to cause disruption and panic in schools and draw attention to the availability of “This Book is Gay” in school libraries.
Iowa City school administrators decided to send the book through the reconsideration process because of the “unique events” of the bomb threats, district spokeswoman Kristin Pedersen said in an email to The Gazette.
This was the first formal book reconsideration process during the 2022-23 school year, Pedersen said. No reconsideration requests were made during the 2021-22 school year.
The reconsideration committee recommended to Superintendent Matt Degner the book be returned to the school libraries where it was previously available, Pedersen said.
The superintendent supported the recommendation of the committee.
“This Book is Gay,” written by Juno Dawson, is a non-fiction young adult book written to help young people who are beginning to explore their gender and sexuality, according to the author.
The reconsideration committee has three members — district staff and community members — appointed annually.
The role of the committee is to have a “meaningful discussion” of the different viewpoints that have brought the item to the committee, according to a district policy.
The committee can hear an oral presentation from the complainant to the committee and listen to those with special knowledge and other interested people.
The policy states the committee during its deliberations should remember the school system must be responsive to the needs, tastes and opinions of the community it serves. Therefore, the committee must distinguish between broad community sentiment and attempts to impose personal standards, and focus on whether the material is appropriate for its audience, the policy states.
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