South Carolina governor urges banning of LGBTQ book in schools

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Wednesday sent a letter to his state's Department of Education calling for the removal of a book about gender identity from schools and requesting that they "investigate" similar materials. 

McMaster urged the agency to remove "inappropriate books and materials" and described the specific book in question, "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe, as "sexually explicit" with "pornographic depictions." 

"For sexually explicit materials of this nature to have ever been introduced or allowed in South Carolina's schools, it is obvious that there is or was either a lack of, or a breakdown in, any existing oversight processes or the absence of appropriate screening standards," McMaster wrote in the letter. 

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McMaster said that the book ended up at a school in the Fort Mill School District and that parents in the district signed a petition to get it removed. The Republican governor says he believes "further examination" may show that other "inappropriate materials have been introduced into our State's public schools." 

"Gender Queer" details nonbinary author Maia Kobabe's journey with gender identity and is being debated over its place in schools for its graphic depictions of LGBTQ sexual experiences. 

McMaster's letter comes as the effort to ban or even burn controversial books in schools has gained momentum. A Virginia school board member this week suggested that "sexually explicit" books should be removed from the school library and burned, singling out LGBTQ fiction in particular. 

The director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, told NBC News that the association, which compiles a list of the country's "most challenged books" every year, has seen a notable increase in challenges to books with LGBTQ narratives. 

"I've worked at ALA for two decades now, and I've never seen this volume of challenges come in," Caldwell-Stone told the news outlet. "The impact will fall to those students who desperately want and need books that reflect their lives, that answer questions about their identity, about their experiences that they always desperately need and often feel that they can't talk to adults about."