Canberra, 21 July: ALIA welcomes the decision announced yesterday that the Australian Classification Review Board (ACRB) has classified Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer: A Memoir (2019) as Unrestricted (M – Not recommended for readers under 15 years). This means that Gender Queer can continue to be available on library shelves around the country.
Gender Queer represents a voice that is not often heard and recounts the author’s journey from adolescence to adulthood, exploring gender identity, sexuality, and being outside of the gender binary along the way. The ACRB decision means that this important voice and perspective will not be silenced or erased.
In explaining their decision, the Board noted that the “content of the publication is justified in context, is appropriate for its intended audience of people who are interested in the author or interested in the subjects of gender identity and asexuality, and has a positive tone and character as well as many layers of positive messaging.” You can read the reasons for the decision in full here.
This is not only a win for this individual text and those who passionately advocated for its availability, it is also an important decision that upholds the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, one of ALIA’s objects. Article 19 states that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Yesterday’s announcement is one step in a longer process to ensure that people are free to choose what books they want to read, and to ensure that library staff are safe and supported when making texts available to the public. ALIA will continue to support libraries and library staff as they work to develop diverse collections responsive to the needs of everyone in their communities.