Man Removed from School Board Meeting for Trying to Read Graphic LGBTQ Book

Security forcibly removed a man from a Texas school board meeting after he attempted to read aloud from an LGBTQ graphic novel at the podium. A video shared on social media by Paul Leavitt shows the unidentified man beginning to read from the novel “Flamer” by Mike Curato, including a passage that includes the line, “Who wants my hot wiener?”

“In an abrupt turn of events, a board member from the Fort Worth Independent School District forcefully slams her gavel down and calls for security,” recounted Leavitt. As the situation unfolds, the man persists in reading, even as an officer approaches him. Soon after, two additional security personnel join the officer, creating a trio around the man. Despite the chaos in the audience, marked by overlapping voices and the continuous striking of the gavel by the board member, he clings to the microphone and carries on with his reading.

With tensions escalating, two security officers take hold of the man’s arms, while a third places a hand on his chest. The crowd’s noise level rises, with calls of “hey, take it easy” and “He’s not breaking any laws.” The officers then guide the man out of the room, amid a mix of murmurs and shouts in the background. Amid the commotion, a distinct voice can be heard exclaiming “unconstitutional” as the group exits the auditorium.

From a different vantage point captured in another video, the man asserts that the book is already present in the school. An officer is observed repeatedly pushing and grabbing him. Concerned parents in the vicinity express their anger, imploring the officer to cease his aggressive actions. The confrontation culminates with the man being escorted off the premises.

Flamer was penned by author and artist Mike Curato, making its debut in 2020. Flamer serves as a semi-autobiographical graphic novel, set in the backdrop of 1995. The plot revolves around Aiden, a young boy ridiculed at a Boy Scouts summer camp for “acting in a manner considered stereotypical of gay men.” The American Library Association has spotlighted Flamer as one of 2022’s most “banned books.” Challenges have arisen in over 62 schools, primarily due to its LGBTQ themes and explicit content. PEN America, an advocate for literature, has ranked Flamer among the “most banned books in the U.S. during the first half of the 2022-23 school year.”

Amidst the controversy, Curato hasn’t refrained from speaking out. He views the backlash as a “politically driven initiative” and simply a “diversion.”

“I think any LGBTQ-themed book is automatically going to be stigmatized as ‘sexual,’ because queer people are sexualized in this country and not seen as three-dimensional people,” Curato said to KTLA 5. Curato characterized Flamer as a portrayal of teenage life, targeting readers aged 14-18. He described it as an “honest book,” asserting that its content is no more explicit than that found in a Judy Blume novel.

Nevertheless, detractors have voiced reservations regarding specific visuals within the book. One illustration, for instance, presents a teenage boy in a shower, while another depicts him appreciating the physical appearances of his peers. It’s important to note that these depictions intentionally avoid showing any genitalia.