Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Woman calls police over gay YA graphic novel Flamer in Texas school library

The library of a small school near Houston, Texas has been central in a conflict about gay, young adult graphic novel Flamer by Mike Curato. An anonymous woman reported the book – which has a publisher’s recommended audience age of 14+ unless a parent is supervising – to the Katy Independent School District police headquarters on July 21 for containing “pornographic” content that was “harmful” to minors.

School districts in Texas maintain their own police forces, so this woman reported the graphic novel directly to the district’s police station. According to reporting from LGBTQ Nation, the woman went to the police headquarters in person to allege that Katy Independent School District was breaking Texas penal code 43.24 by having the book in the library. This code “prohibits the sale, distribution or display of harmful material to minors.” The woman said the origin of her complaint was Jordan High School in Katy, Texas, but that since other schools in the area also had the book, she wanted to extend it to the whole district. She apparently told the police that she had already filed a complaint with the district itself, but was unsatisfied with the outcome. She also allegedly wanted to speak with a manager at the police headquarters.

The school district had already assessed Flamer with a committee and deemed it appropriate for a teenage audience back in March. The graphic novel won a Lambda Literary Award in 2021, and was also included in the Texas Library Association’s 2021 Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List. Despite this, the woman was not appeased and sent a follow-up email to the police after her visit.

“Per Governor Abbott and the TEA, the book ‘Flamer’ should have been removed from KISD library shelves but it still remains,” the woman wrote. “The KISD Police Report will be sent to the Texas Rangers office.”

An officer proceeded to “check out” the book themselves as part of the investigation, according to Maria Corrales DiPetta, general manager of media relations for the district. This investigation ultimately found that the woman’s claim was “unsubstantiated.”

“The book has gone through multiple review processes by the district, including one with a committee made up of librarians, parents, and teachers, and deemed appropriate for high school libraries,” the report on the incident states. “The complainant also still has the opportunity to take her complaint before the KISD board.”

Ty Galiz-Rowe

Ty is Gayming Magazine's deputy editor and esports expert.