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Another Northeast Florida school district removes LGBTQ memoir from its shelves

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
All Boys Aren't Blue, by journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson, was published in April 2020.

Clay County Schools has removed the Black, queer memoir "All Boys Aren't Blue" from its library shelves this month, joining a growing list of school districts censoring the book from students.

According to the publisher, Macmillian Children's Publishing Group, the "young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys."

Flagler County also has removed the book from its schools, after a School Board member filed a criminal complaint about sexual material in the book of essays by author and LGBTQ activist George M. Johnson, reflecting on his adolescence.

The Sheriff's Office found there were no grounds to her complaint, but the Flagler County Schools has not returned the book to shelves pending an review process.

Clay County had one copy of the book in circulation earlier this year but removed the book after receiving a request for reconsideration. Spokeswoman Laura Christmas said the book was removed Dec. 8 "based on board policy and state statute" after a review process.

According to Clay County policy, the district convenes a review committee that votes on whether the book should stay on the shelves based on content, presentation and learning. Superintendent David Broskie then makes the final decision.

Clay County Education Association President Vicki Kidwell said she's worried that the decision could set a precedent for censoring books in schools and overriding the expertise of the trained media specialists who choose library books in Clay County.

"I think we owe it to our students to give them those viewpoints where they can see themselves," Kidwell said. "I'm worried more about a trend than I am this particular book. ... Our librarians are tasked with resisting censorship."

In Flagler County, two books about racism and one about sexual assault also were removed from shelves earlier this year. Those books, unlike "All Boys Aren't Blue," have since returned after a review process.

The author of "All Boys Aren't Blue" told CBS News last month that suppression of Black and queer voices is not new.

"I knew it was going to rattle the nerves of people who have always suppressed stories like mine," Johnson, the author, said in response to the book's removal from school libraries in at least 10 states. "The United States of America has always had an issue with anything that tells the truth."

"All Boys Aren't Blue" was published in April 2020 and received widespread critical acclaim. The New York Public Library listed the book in its top 10 books in 2020 for teens. Actress Gabrielle Union's production company sought television rights to make the book of essays into a TV series with Sony pictures.

The books publisher, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, wrote in a statement in response to the recent banning, "We are confident that George's words and story will resonate with readers, many of whom will be seeing themselves and their experiences reflected in the pages of a book for the first time. This is an important book, and we feel fortunate to have it, and George, on our list."

In response to a public records request, Duval County Public Schools said it has never had a copy of "All Boys Aren't Blue" on its shelves.

WJCT reporter Raymon Troncoso contributed to this report.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.