A conservative political action committee on Sunday announced a $600,000 TV ad buy to draw attention to the inclusion of left-wing, hyper-sexualized books in Maine’s public school classrooms and libraries. The ad connects those books directly to the policies of Maine Gov. Janet Mills.
Maine Families First PAC’s 30-second television advertisement features “Gender Queer” — a controversial illustrated novel the ad describes as “a graphic, explicit, how-to manual on gay sex.”
“While Maine’s students’ scores plummet, Janet Mills distributes books like gender queer that are so pornographic this station cannot show you what’s inside,” the ad’s narrator says. According to a press release from the PAC, the ad was submitted to seven television stations in Maine. One station has refused to run the ad due to its explicit content and none of the others had agreed to air it as of Sunday.
Gender Queer was written by Maia Kobabe and published by Simon & Schuster in 2019. Kobabe describes eirself as non-binary and prefers the pronouns e/em/eir.
In three short years, Kobabe’s book has popped up in public schools across the country, in large part because it has been added to several left-wing non-profits’ recommended reading lists. Out Maine, a non-profit that works closely with the Maine Department of Education, has advocated for the book’s inclusion in public schools and even raised money to donate copies to libraries across the state.
This is not the first time Mills has been criticized for her administration’s embrace of radical content in the classroom.
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In September 2021, Mills’ Department of Education used federal pandemic funds to produce and distribute the Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education (MOOSE) program. As part of that program, one lesson on gender included a public school teacher asserting left-wing theories about gender as fact. Children as young as five were told that doctors sometimes make “mistakes” when they acknowledge a baby’s biological sex. After public outcry and criticism from the Maine GOP, Mills backed down and removed the controversial content from state websites.
This is also not the first time Gender Queer has found itself in the middle of a political fight. In school districts across Maine, parents have launched petitions to have school boards remove the book from circulation.
Last week, RSU 40’s board voted to keep the book in the Medomak Valley High School Library. Before that, MSAD 6’s school board voted to do the same. In August, RSU 56 voted to remove the book from the Dirigo High School Library.
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Maine Families First PAC filed paperwork with the Maine Ethics Commission for $750,000 in independent expenditures opposing Mills on Friday. All told, the group has spent nearly $2,000,000 opposing Mills in this cycle.