A circuit court has ruled that two sexually explicit books are too “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors,” and the judge has decided to prevent any distribution of these novels to children without parental consent — including in public libraries and bookstores.
Judge Pamela Baskervill ruled in favor of Republican congressional candidate Tommy Altman on Wednesday, who sued to stop “obscene” books from being distributed minors. According to the judge’s ruling, the novels Gender Queer: A Memoir and A Court of Mist and Fury are too “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors,” ABC 7 News reported.
Thanks to that ruling, Virginia public schools may soon be required to remove the novels and similarly graphic books from library shelves, though the publishers of the books do have 21 days to contest the judge’s ruling.
Prior to Judge Baskervill’s decision, the Virginia Beach School Board voted to remove Gender Queer from libraries following a review from a district working group which deemed the novel “pervasively vulgar.” The book — which was written by “nonbinary” author Maia Kobabe — is a graphic novel centered around the author’s sexual experiences.
Gender Queer currently sits at the top of the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021 list. The novel contains graphic images of genitalia, bodily functions and sexual acts, despite being advertised as a book for children.
The other book that was challenged in the lawsuit, A Court of Mist and Fury, contains several graphic sexual scenes, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“These books go far beyond the usual themes children may read in the fantasy genre and include graphically described scenes of sex, gore, excessive profanity, and even depict sexual acts performed by a minor. This is wildly inappropriate for school aged children, especially when those children can access these books without parental consent,” Altman said in a statement provided to Timcast.
In her ruling, Judge Baskervill specifically cited “18.2-384 of the Code of Virginia” in determining there was probable cause to declare that the books were too obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.
Critics of the decision have claimed that banning books from school libraries violates the First Amendment. Responding to this argument, Virginia state delegate Tim Anderson (R.) said that the court order doesn’t explicitly ban the books, but gives parents the ability to control their children’s access to obscene content, according to ABC 7.