Wake County libraries pulled an LGBTQ graphic novel from shelves after receiving complaints about sexual content, the county confirmed.
The book, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, came to the attention of conservative activists after North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson shared images of the graphic novel while defending himself against accusations of homophobia.
The public libraries’ catalogue listed the book as deleted in its app Tuesday. Wake County libraries had several copies of the graphic novel in its adult sections.
A library patron asked the county to remove the 2019 book from its catalogue, Wake County spokeswoman Alice Avery said in an email to Spectrum News 1.
“WCPL determined that the book does contain explicit illustrations that do not align with WCPL’s selection policy,” she said, referring to Wake County Public Libraries. “WCPL is committed to thoroughly reviewing titles when we receive a formal request from the community.”
Some parents in Wake County filed criminal complaints with the sheriff’s office about “Gender Queer” and other books in schools. Wake County Public Libraries is separate from the school system.
Lisa Luten, spokeswoman for Wake County Public Schools, said she did not know if "Gender Queer" is still included in any school libraries, but it would be up to each school to decide over removing books.
The library system also received a request to remove “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison. That book was the focus of another criminal complaint filed with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
Avery said the library system decided to keep “Lawn Boy” in its adult collection.
Both “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy” deal with homosexuality and gender identity issues. "Gender Queer" is the only book removed from the Wake County Public Libraries catalogue this year, according to a county response to a public records request.
The county still has other explicit books on the shelves, including “50 Shades of Grey” and several graphic novels with sexual content.
The criminal complaints filed with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office about school libraries and the complaints to Wake County Public Libraries come in the wake of comments by the lieutenant governor.
In October, Robinson held a press conference defending himself over videos that showed him referring to homosexuality and transgenderism as “filth.”
"There is no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality or any of that filth," Robinson is seen in video telling a church congregation. "Yes, I called it filth. And if you don't like it that I called it filth, come see me about it."
"My spiritual beliefs about transgenderism and homosexuality are completely separate from this office, and I can keep it separate from this office," Robinson said in a brief news conference Oct. 12. "But that is not the issue we are talking about here."
The issue, he said, is having books like “Gender Queer,” that include graphic illustrations of sexual activity between men, in school libraries. Democrats around the state denounced Robinson, who is widely seen as the possible Republican nominee to run for governor in 2024.
As recently as this week, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, criticized the lieutenant governor.
“He does not speak for North Carolinians. That hateful language does not represent who we are,” Cooper said at a news conference Tuesday. “We are an inclusive state that values diversity.”