Angry, anti-LGBTQ+ agitator Stephanie Butler is pissed. She was so upset that students at Edsel Ford High School (EFHS) in Dearborn, where Butler’s daughter is a senior, can actually find a variety of diverse books — including those that positively portray LGBTQ+ teens — that the rabble rouser went right down to the Dearborn Police Department and filed a report, as confirmed by Metro Weekly.
The book that especially raised the demagogue’s ire is “This Book is Gay,” a bestselling U.K. import from author Juno Dawson that first came out in 2015. Butler said in a Facebook post that the book was “so graphic” that she felt compelled to report it to the authorities. The Dearborn Police Department has not responded to a request for information about the status of the report and could not confirm whether an investigation has been opened.
In a post that accompanied a video on Facebook chronicling her hate-filled campaign, the fierce firebrand expressed offense at the fact that the book, which New York Times bestselling author Patrick Ness said in a review was “the book every LGBT person would have killed for as a teenager,” spoke candidly to teens about sex, how to meet other LGBTQ+ teens, and how to challenge hate speech by anti-LGBTQ+ religious zealots.
Dawson, who is trans, is a former teacher specializing in behavior studies. She, herself, calls the tome a “handy guidebook” and official press materials for the book say it’s appropriate for LGBTQ+ teens, tweens and adults; readers looking to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community; parents of LGBTQ+ kids, and educators. Dawson conducted a national survey on the issues covered in the book in 2013 and used that research to fill the book with facts, charts, illustrations and stories from more than 300 LGBTQ+ people.
But “This Book is Gay” is not the only book that has Butler the blowhard billowing smoke out of her nostrils. Butler, who appears to be a frequent poster to radical right-wing Facebook groups as One Dearborn and the nasty neighborhood association Concerned Citizens of South Dearborn, bragged in the same Facebook post that she had single-handedly managed to have a total of four titles removed from the shelves of the EFHS library. (WXYZ reports that to date a total of seven books have been placed under review.) She also called for the firing of EFHS Principal Rima Hassan, accusing her in a post of being “disgraceful and disgusting.”
This was in response to a letter Hassan sent to parents of EFHC students. In it, Hassan, without mentioning Butler or any parent by name, wrote “When there is so much negativity shared on social media, focused on one school, it’s natural that student and staff morale is affected. When morale is affected, you might as well add diminished pride and effort.” The letter went on to say that EFHS students deserve better than negativity and naysaying. Students “should not have to internalize a national debate as being solely theirs,” she continued. “With everything else teens have to deal with, let us, at the very least, minimize negative dialogue and messaging.”
Hassan, however, was not quite as bold and brave as she could have been. She acquiesced at least in part, promising that Dearborn Public Schools had initiated a process of weeding out books and vetting them for grade level and age appropriateness as well as allowing parents to opt their children out of borrowing books their parents “deem unfit.” She and other Dearborn Schools officials have said, though, that they are not currently banning books.
Still, that’s what former Dearborn Schools teacher Paul Bruce says the current removal of books amounts to. He has started a campaign to combat Butler’s efforts and responded to the troublemaker’s tirades online and at the last school board meeting.
“The school board was met with a disgruntled parent, one with a history of being disgruntled, and made the unfortunate mistake of allowing her arguments for the removal of these seven books to heard,” Bruce said in a post.
Bruce went on to say that five of the seven titles removed were works designed to support and interest the LGBTQ+ community.
“While the perpetrator of the ban has gone out of her way to claim that she has ‘nothing against the LGBTQ+ community,’ no statement could be more ridiculous,” he said.
Bruce has created a t-shirt campaign to retaliate against Butler’s brutish banning efforts. The shirts, which say “Read with Pride,” can be purchased at the Barnes & Noble in Allen Park. Bruce said that the books in question are “designed for LGBTQ+ high school students — or any high school students — who wish to read them, to know that they are cared about and valued as much as anyone else.” It’s all about helping teens learn about themselves and see examples of people like them, no different, he said, than “supplying books for African Americans, Asians, Latinos or Muslims so that they can feel valued while relating to characters like themselves.”
Butler, Bruce said, belongs to a “hate group” and needs to be stopped — and he called on the school board to do just that, saying they had “empowered this individual as well as those who are part of a hate group watching from the sides. … This request should have been cut off at the knees.”
“No one is forcing anyone to read any of this material,” he continued. “If you don’t like it, don’t read it. End of story.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Stephanie Butler was a member of the conservative group Moms for Liberty. She is not, nor ever has been, a member of the group.