Virginia politicians seek restraining order to prevent Barnes & Noble from selling ‘Gender Queer’ to minors

The move comes a week after the Virginia Beach school board removed the book from library shelves.

Virginia State Delegate and lawyer is seeking a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools “to enjoin them from selling or loaning” the graphic novel Gender Queer and the novel A Court of Mist and Fury to minors without parent consent, according to Book Riot.

On his Facebook page, Tim Anderson, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, says he is seeking the restraining order on behalf of his client, Tommy Altman, who is currently running for U.S. Congress in Virginia.

“Today, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books Gender Queer and a Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors,” Anderson posted. “My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent.”

The move follows a decision from last week by the Virginia Beach school board to remove Gender Queer from shelves in the school district’s libraries.

ICv2 received a statement from Barnes & Noble about the situation:

Asked for comment, a Barnes & Noble spokesperson said, “As booksellers, we carry thousands of books whose subject matter some may find offensive. We live in a diverse society, and that diversity of opinion is reflected in the books we carry on our shelves that cater to the wide range of interests of our customers. We ask that our customers respect our responsibility to offer this breadth of reading materials, and respect also that, while they chose not to purchase many of these themselves, they may be of interest to others.”

IcV2 also points out that Anderson was ordered by a judge in 2016 to do pro-bono work for impersonating a federal bankruptcy court judge.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe has made headlines over the last few years — first, for winning several awards like the Stonewall Honor Award and an Alex Award, and second, for attempts at banning by libraries across the country. It was the No. 1 most challenged book of 2021, according to the the American Library Association. Its LGBTQIA+-positive content has made it a favored target of conservative politicians who seek to rile up their base prior to the election.

“What I’m learning is that a book challenge is like a community attacking itself,” Kobabe said. “The people who are hurt in a challenge are the marginalized readers in the community where the challenge takes place. That is readers who are younger, readers who do not have the financial means to buy books if they’re not available for free in the library. That is queer teens who might not feel comfortable bringing a book with such an obvious title into their home, if they have more conservative parents who would only feel safe reading the book secretly in the library without even checking it out. So yes, it upsets me because what I’m seeing is resources being taken away from queer marginalized youth, which does hurt. That does hurt me.”

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