Book bannings continue to be an obsession for conservatives, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ content, but the latest library challenge has achieved a whole new level of absurdity. A Texas woman sent the cops after Katy Independent School District (Katy ISD) for stocking a queer YA graphic novel. The woman has remained anonymous, but for the sake of ease, let’s just refer to her by some completely random, arbitrary name like…“Karen.”
The challenge concerned Mike Curato’s debut graphic novel Flamer, a coming of age story about a queer Filipino teen named Aiden Navarro. Set in 1995, the graphic novel concerns Aiden’s experience at a Boy Scouts summer camp, where he must confront homophobic bullying, masculinity, and his own Catholic upbringing in order to arrive at a place of self-acceptance. The book was critically lauded, earning the Lambda Literary Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and making Horn Book Magazine’s Best Books of 2020 list.
But for Karen, this story of self-love in the face of hatred really struck a nerve. When she discovered Flamer in a library at Jordan High School in Katy ISD, she complained that the heartfelt story was somehow pornographic.
According to the Houston Chronicle, a school district committee had already reviewed the book in March and decided it contained no objectionable material. As a result, the woman’s complaint was dismissed. But in classic Karen style, she decided to go above the district—straight to the cops.
The police report details her complaint, which consisted of a supposed violation of Texas penal code 43.24, prohibiting “the sale, distribution or display of harmful material to minors.” Additionally, Karen hoped to ensure the book would be banned not only in Jordan High but in school libraries across the entire district.
Although an officer did check out the book, the investigation ultimately went nowhere. Per the police report, Flamer had already undergone “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 school principal corroborated this, saying that the book had already been pulled and reinstated after receiving initial complaints. As a result, Karen’s objection was found to be “unsubstantiated.”
Ever the Karen, the woman has not been deterred, saying she will go above the local police to the Texas Rangers office. The police have stated that she is within her rights to make another complaint, if that’s how she wants to spend her time. If we know our Karens, she’ll be taking them up on that offer.