GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville County Schools Board of Trustees voted to restrict access to a novel exploring a transgender fourth grader’s journey from being born as a boy but identifying as a girl.
The book, first published in 2016, was previously called “George” but later this year it was changed to “Melissa” to be more respectful of the young protagonist’s female identity, according to author Alex Gino.
The district’s trustees took up the issue Tuesday at a board meeting, voting on whether to exclude the book due to transgender content, according to Roger Meek, school board chairman.
Trustees voted 10 to 2 to remove the book from elementary schools while allowing it to stay in middle schools and high schools. Middle schoolers will need parental permission to access the book.
The vote came after the board’s Materials Review Committee voted that the book was appropriate to keep in the district.
“I used a name for my main character that she doesn’t like for herself (i.e. George, the title of the book) instead of her actual name. My main character’s name is Melissa, and I apologize to her, to the larger trans community, and to all of my readers for the error. I’m sorry,” Gino said on his website.
Below is a sample of the book under consideration this evening:
The book is published by Scholastic.
District trustees also considered whether to approve a letter intended to send to lawmakers. This is part of a local effort to demand that publishers provide descriptive ratings for controversial content within books.
“It would be very helpful for us because our media specialists are not able to look at every book, read every book,” said Meek.
The board voted 11-1 during Tuesday’s meeting to send the letter.