Lawn Boy,Gender Queer shouldn’t be banned, they should be celebrated


Graphic by Sarah Mack

Lawn Boy and Gender Queer have been criticized for sexual content, but senior Sarah Smack argues they belong in the LFHS library.

Sarah Mack, Editor

In the wake of nation-wide debates about the content taught in schools, books have taken the brunt of the criticism. What started as a complaint in Fairfax County, Virginia over two books in the school library, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, sparked a fire of book bans and challenges across the country.

Questions over these books have prompted LFHS to create a book review committee. I decided to take a closer look and see what it was about these books that were catching the attention of the nation.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Jonathan Evison’s semi-autobiographical novel tackles issues about race and class and takes jabs at the double-standard of the American dream.

Evison explores the life of a boy named Michael “Mike” Muñoz and his journey to understand where he fits in society when his life feels somewhat stuck. Mike is a kid with a good heart and a passion for landscaping, but always seems to be stuck behind barriers outside of his control.

In many ways, Muñoz represents a somewhat Holden Caulfield-esque character, as Mike wonders how he can find his place in the world when he’s living paycheck to paycheck. The reader is forced to face the constant pressure and slew of beatdowns that people like Mike face as they get lucky and hope for the best only to be sent back to square one.

The writing seemed a little crass at times, but not in a way that was unexpected or shocking. More so, it felt as though there were no artistic flourishes to try and brighten Michael Muñoz’s reality like a rose-colored filter, it simply was what it was. In fact, it was actually quite refreshing to see such a blunt perspective, and it made the plot and Muñoz’s character more enthralling.

One of the main reasons the book had become controversial was because of a scene narrator Muñoz describes with another classmate when they were kids. Critics have labeled it pedophilic and pornographic.

Although the scene itself is explicit and sexual, it is not nearly as appalling as it was made out to be, and contained neither pornographic or pedophilic content. There were only a few brief references to it throughout the entire book and by comparison, there have been more explicit scenes in required reading literary pieces than in Lawn Boy.

The book is a very heartwarming story about diligence and hard work in the face of adversity and following your dreams even when the world tells you otherwise. The story provides something that every teenager can relate to and is definitely a book I would highly recommend.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer is an award-winning graphic novel memoir that explores author Maia Kobabe’s journey through discovering eir sexuality and gender in a world that is very heteronormative and binary. The book follows Kobabe from childhood to adulthood, taking the reader through the paradoxes and juxtapositions of societal expectations and identity.

Kobabe, a nonbinary author who uses e/em/eir pronouns wrote the book in mind for queer students and expressed that it was important that queer kids have access to “good, accurate, safe information about these topics.”

What is most striking about Kobabe’s writing is how unafraid e was to show the different challenges of navigating the complex matters of human identity. E delves into the little day to day experiences like the gender dysphoria of getting your period and not being able to find clothes that really fit you. 

In many ways it evoked a feeling of isolation and confusion for those moments, almost as if everyone else was functioning at a different frequency than Kobabe because everyone else seemingly felt comfortable with their bodies and who society expected them to be.

Many of the complaints surrounding the book are based on sexual explicitness, citing the book as pornographic and containing pedophilia, the same as Lawn Boy

There is only one panel in the entire book that references pedophilia in a scene with a Greek vase and Plato’s Symposium, and it does not condone pedophilia in any way. Though there are explicit scenes, it wasn’t extremely shocking, and there are similar scenes in other graphic novels, the only difference being that they are heterosexual. There are probably more references to sex in Romeo and Juliet than there are in Gender Queer.

No matter your gender or sexuality, identity is very complex and it changes and evolves with us throughout our entire lives. Kids aren’t really taught anything about identity and are often left to their own devices to navigate who they are in a world that expects you to be cis and straight.

Though Gender Queer is not representative of everyone’s experiences, it allows queer kids to see themselves represented and encourages education and growth in our relationships with ourselves and those around us.


Lawn Boy and Gender Queer are both stand out books and can and should have a place in LFHS’ library. Libraries are places where people of all ages can go to find stories, information, and representation, and it’s important that those things aren’t limited because of taboo or controversial subjects.

Quite simply, it feels like the only reason these books are being targeted is because they have LGBTQ+ themes in them. The only reason that many of these scenes seem shocking is when they are sought out and taken out of context, and that would likely not the be the case if the scenes were heterosexual.

One of the joys of libraries is that they have books for everyone and are spaces for learning and free expression. If you don’t like a book you can always return it and check something else out instead. It’s important that the library’s safe space be maintained and not be infringed by the fear of contentious discussion.

Lawn Boy and Gender Queer shouldn’t be banned, they should be celebrated.