Several anti-LGBT extremist groups are working in Kenosha to ban books from KUSD schools. One of these is MassResistance, led by a California man identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an anti-LGBT White Nationalist named Arthur Schaper.

The SPLC has tracked extremism in the United States for decades and successfully defunded the KKK.

You can read more about Schaper and the local conservatives who support his efforts here.

There are concerned parents in Kenosha who have differing views on appropriate school book content, including how it addresses teen sexuality, gender, and LGBT themes.

LGBT-themed books are under national scrutiny, including in Kenosha. Schools are grappling with defining appropriate content and whose values should be prioritized in public libraries. Librarians, administrators, and school boards face decisions on what to retain and what to remove.

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What's going on with these book bans, anyway?

In the first half of the 2022-23 school year, PEN America recorded 1,477 instances of banned books, affecting 874 unique titles. This represents a 28% increase compared to the previous six months (Jan-Jun 2022).

Yet a 2022 poll by the American Library Association revealed that the majority of both parents AND voters oppose book banning. But attempts to ban books continue.

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If Most Parents DON'T Support Book Bans, Why Are Books Being Banned?

Public school districts, like Kenosha Unified School District, are grappling with a challenging situation. They're confronted with threats, political pressure, and parental concerns about the books in their libraries. This often leads school boards, administrators, teachers, and librarians to exercise caution in book selection. Unfortunately, in many cases, this caution leads to book removals. Recently, KUSD removed certain titles due to intense political pressure from three community groups: the Republican Party of Kenosha County, Moms for Liberty, and a newly formed group called Kenosha MassResistance. You can access more details on these groups and the situation in Kenosha here.

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Targeted Books: LGBT Content - Nationwide and in Kenosha.

Over half of the books being targeted for banning nationwide contain LGBT content.

And just like in Kenosha, a very small handful of vocal people are driving book bans.

In Kenosha, despite the protestations of the book banners that they are not targeting LGBT content in their book challenges, ALL of the books that have been removed due to political pressure were books with LGBT content.

Virtually all of the books Kenosha's MassResistance group have posted about on social media has been LGBT. Since the group is being led by an anti-LGBT extremist, that should come as no surprise.

Most of these books challenges have been due to claims of "pornography."

Over half of the banned books nationally include LGBT content. In Kenosha, despite claims otherwise, all removed books were LGBT-themed, reflecting the priorities of local book banners. As MassResistance has been identified as an anti-LGBT hate group, led by an anti-LGBT extremist, this aligns with what they've been doing nationally.

Notably, most challenges cite "pornography" as the reason.

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IS there pornography in KUSD libraries?

The courts have been clear that pornography in all legal definitions is created with the intent to excite or stimulate. Playboy magazine is produced with the intent to excite or stimulate. Pornographic movies are produced with the intent to excite or stimulate.

Is there pornographic literature in KUSD libraries, then? No.

Is there literature in KUSD schools that some parents object to because it deals with issues of gender and sexuality? Yes.

Is there literature that contains pictures that some parents object to? Yes.

Does that make it pornography? No.

But there is content that makes some parents and community members uncomfortable and/or mad, including information about gender identity and sexual acts.

Most Targeted LGBT Books: Coming-of-Age Stories and Graphic Novels.

Coming-of-age stories about LGBT teens are frequently the target of bans, and that is true in Kenosha. These books delve into self-discovery, addressing sexuality, gender identity, and self-acceptance. Books that are told as simple line drawings (comic book form) are called graphic novels, which are currently popular with teen readers in all book categories, and this style of LGBT book is particularly targeted for book challenges due to its visual nature, which some find uncomfortable. These books are still a relatively new and evolving medium, and older people generally are less comfortable with them. Some extremist groups are particularly targeting grandparents to lead book challenges for that reason. People who oppose these graphic novels call them pornography, although they are not.

These novels offer a powerful lens into LGBTQ+ experiences, promoting inclusivity and combating homophobia. Critics cherry-pick intimate scenes, circulate them online and during meetings, hoping to generate anti-LGBT outrage to rally support for bans, often without reading the full content of the book.

Groups like MassResistance, Moms for Liberty and the Kenosha Republican Party employ this tactic to generate outrage and to apply political pressure (see examples below). In Kenosha, the three groups work cooperatively to generate outrage over LGBT books. All of the posts and calls to action on books generated by MassResistance, Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County feature LGBT book content. You can see samples below, including how they're working hand-in-hand to generate outrage over LGBT books.

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With Different Opinions on "Appropriate" Reading Material: Who Decides?

The books facing bans aren't mandatory reading and students are not required to borrow them from the library. No one is compelling teens to read them, nor are they being indoctrinated or exposed. Advocates for these materials are not pedophiles or groomers.

Like numerous other books, they're available to students who actively seek them, supported by parents who value their children's exploration of gender and sexuality during adolescence.

Every parent should determine their child's suitable reading material, whether in school libraries or elsewhere. Some prefer to exclude gender and sexuality content, while others believe it aids self-understanding and acceptance.

Gender Queer is a multi-award winning graphic novel, and also one of the most banned books in the country. It was recently banned from KUSD schools.

A KUSD parent who read Gender Queer explains why she felt it was important for KUSD to have this book in its library:

"I read the book a couple of months ago. I have two kids in HS and one of them is queer, she has a lot of friends that are heterosexual and a lot of friends that fall somewhere in LGBTQ+. I’m not as knowledgeable about what makes someone gender queer or have gender dysphoria and I wanted to understand so I could be more supportive of her friends.

I understand concerns with the small pieces of the book that reference sex. I personally wouldn’t want my kids to pick it up until they are in high school. I think those pieces of the book are important as they help articulate the author’s journey and understanding sexuality and what you enjoy is a part of life.

There are a lot of LGBTQ+ people dying in this country due to suicide and targeted attacks, I think it’s important to do our best to understand and support them. I think it’s good that books like this exist and are available to kids (again, HS age and not younger). My kids have friends whose parents aren’t supportive of them and it breaks my heart. If this book can help a child understand and articulate what they are feeling and going through and it can help a parent understand their child, it’s an important book to have access to.

When my kids were younger, we went to the library and picked out books together. I was able to see what they were reading and we could have conversations about what is an appropriate book to check out. I’d like to think those conversations have carried over into their teen years.

I think this book belongs in the YA section of libraries so that it is accessible to both teens that are trying to figure themselves out and parents that would like to support them."

While some school districts have banned GenderQueer in response to book challenges, others have opted to keep it in the school library. You can read some of the reasons here.

MassResistance, Moms for Liberty, and certain Kenosha County Republicans are pressuring KUSD to ban LGBT books, aiming to dictate content choices for all parents in our public school libraries.

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"But The Pictures Are So Shocking/Inappropriate/Pornography/Explicit!!!"

Why We Should Provide Books That Include Gender and Sexuality in School Libraries

(even if some adults are uncomfortable)

Graphic novels, a favored format among today's teenagers, offer an accessible way for those exploring gender and sexuality to find understanding and acceptance in school libraries. Providing accurate information on safe practices, consent, and self-acceptance is crucial, especially for LGBTQ+ students, who, like their peers, may be sexually active. 1/3 of high school students report being sexually active. Books also serve as windows into diverse experiences, fostering a sense of belonging for marginalized youth. Beyond their informative value, LGBT books convey a vital message to children: they are not alone, and there is nothing wrong with them. Upholding the Freedom to Read, protected by the 1st Amendment, ensures that every family can decide what is suitable for their child without imposing those choices on others, including extremist groups. LGBT young people deserve the same right to be safe, accepted at school and find the content they need or want in their school library as their peers.

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While LGBT Kids Are the Most Vulnerable Student Population, BELONGING Helps Change That and That Includes Representation in Books in the School Library

LGBTQ youth face elevated risksof depression, anxiety, and suicide due to heightened experiences of discrimination, rejection, and internalized negativity from a lack of acceptance. The most significant stressor is the fear of isolation from family and friends, depriving them of a supportive community that embraces their identity. Conversely, a sense of belonging significantly improves mental health and lowers the risk of suicide. Providing readily available books in school libraries for LGBT teens to explore their emotions, including their gender and sexuality, is crucial in nurturing a feeling of acceptance and normalcy. It also fosters understanding and support from their peers.

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Conservatives Who Claim They Aren't Banning Books, Really ARE Banning Books

Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States, with children’s literature being the primary target. According to the Free Speech Center, advocates for banning a book or certain books fear that children will be swayed or disturbed by its contents, which they regard as potentially dangerous. They commonly fear that these publications will present ideas, raise questions, and incite critical inquiry among children that parents, political groups, or religious organizations are not ready to address or that they find inappropriate.

The people banning books understand government censorship isn't popular and book bans are particularly unpopular. That is why they falsely claim they aren't banning books.

Removing a book from a school library is a ban. It means a student is no longer able to access that book at school. Even though books may be available at a public library or for sale at a book store or online, a ban in school creates a barrier to the content that many students may be unable to overcome for any number of reasons (lack of transportation to a library, lack of a library card, lack of access to the money to purchase books, embarrassment at having to seek out materials, etc.)

More importantly the ban taking place in public schools across the country, including in KUSD schools, sends a message that there is something wrong with LGBT students. Because LGBT content is particularly being targeted by anti-LGBT hate groups like MassResistance and Moms for Liberty, while similar content is not being removed from schools, those groups are sending the harmful message to LGBT students that LGBT content is wrong, that LGBT gender expression or questions or confusion is wrong or abnormal, that their feelings of sexuality or how they express their sexuality is abnormal or wrong.

Again, over HALF of the books targeted by these extremist groups is LGBT content. These same groups are targeting LGBT individuals in other areas of their lives as well. In 2023 alone, over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, which is a record; and over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, also a record. MassResistance and Moms for Liberty are two groups that have championed the erosion of LGBT rights, books are just another aspect of that attack.

Book banning, particularly in children's literature, is the most prevalent form of censorship in the U.S. According to the Free Speech Center, those advocating for bans fear that certain books may influence or disturb children, deeming their content potentially risky. They worry that these publications may introduce ideas and provoke questions that parents, political or religious groups are not prepared to address or consider inappropriate.

Removing a book from a school library constitutes a ban. It ends a student's access to the book in school and limits a student's access to that book; even if the book remains available at public libraries, in bookstores or online, this ban creates a significant, sometimes insurmountable, obstacle for many students, due to reasons like transportation, public library access, or financial constraints.

Crucially, these bans including in KUSD schools, send a damaging message to LGBT students. Anti-LGBT hate groups like MassResistance and Moms for Liberty, which target LGBT content, convey the harmful message that being LGBT is wrong. Regardless of their false claim they are not focused on LGBT books, the books being banned indicate otherwise. Over half of books banned in the United States this year so far, and all of the books banned recently from KUSD schools, are books with LGBT content. The message these bans are sending is that LGBT experiences, gender expression, and questions about identity are abnormal or improper.

In 2023, a record-breaking number of over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, with over 220 bills specifically targeting transgender and non-binary individuals. The Republican Party and groups like MassResistance and Moms for Liberty are prime drivers of the assault on LGBT rights, with books being just one facet of their broader agenda.

Book Bans, Curriculum Limits, Speech Control Are All Part of the Same Movement.

Efforts to politicize U.S. schools through book bans, curriculum restrictions, and even controlling the words teachers and school staff can and can't say contradict the interests of most American families. Across 17 states, officials are introducing measures to suppress discussions on American history and current events, often targeting issues of race and identity. This trend aims to stifle free expression in public education, contributing to the broader "Ed Scare." This anti-public-education movement perpetuates discrimination and inequity, redirecting funds from public to private, often religious or for-profit, schools that primarily benefit the affluent. Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose this movement.

Book bans and curriculum restrictions impact whose histories, identities, and voices are valued in education and society.

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Kenosha has experienced the repeated disruption, including cancellations, of school board meetings by members of extremist groups Moms for Liberty and MassResistance, as well as leaders and members of the local Republican Party.

School leaders and employees are being attacked as well as members of the Kenosha community who speak out in support of LGBT books and against book bans.

Kenosha as faced repeated disruptions in school board meetings caused by extremist groups like Moms for Liberty, MassResistance, and local Republican Party members. This has led to attacks on school leaders, staff, and community members supporting LGBT books and opposing bans, including ugly social media posts (see below).

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Extremist groups are organizing and promise to keep submitting book challenges until all the content they want removed is gone.

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In Florida, shelves have been emptied of books due to the efforts of Moms for Liberty and other extremist groups.

Members of these groups promise to continue pressuring KUSD school district to remove books to which they object, including two members of KUSDs school board: Moms for Liberty members Eric Meadows and Kristine Schmaling.

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KUSD social media accounts have recently come under cyberattacks over library book content, according to social media claims by one of these extremist groups (see below).

You can read more about what's been going on in Kenosha and who is responsible here.

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Members of MassResistance claim they aren't intolerant of LGBT people, but their social media posts show that isn't true:

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On the day the Pope announced there could be a way for the Catholic Church to bless same-sex marriages, Karen Mahoney tweeted this:


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And a page also run by the leaders of MassResistance posted this:

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Disruptive meetings, resource-intensive book challenges, costly lawsuits, and marginalization of LGBT individuals harm both our schools and community. Divisiveness, name-calling, and distrust in educators and staff further undermine our educational environment.

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  • Pay attention to the KUSD school board race in April. There are FOUR Moms for Liberty Members running: Angela Kretchmer, Bob Tierney, John Kim and Brian Thomas.
  • Spread the word. Post on social media. Talk to your friends, family, fellow parents, neighbors. Go to step 7 for how to work together to push back on these bans.
  • Support our school district by thanking teachers for their hard work, thanking administrators, thanking library staff who are underfire by extremists, thank school board members who stand up for the Freedom to Read.
  • Write to the district's administrator, head of library services and school board to tell them you support the Freedom to Read in our schools and support a diversity of book content, even content that may make some conservative parents uncomfortable:

KUSD School board members:

Yolanda Adams

Mary Modder

Todd Price

Rebecca Stevens

Todd Battle

Eric Meadows

Kristine Scmaling

KUSD Head of Library Services:

KUSD Superintendent:

  • Attend KUSD school board meetings and speak out in support of the Freedom to Read.

Regular School Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 P.M. at the Educational Support Center, 3600 52nd Street Kenosha. Citizens comments are heard at the start of every meeting. You can sign up to speak in advance or when you arrive at the meeting.

  • Watch school board meetings on the KUSD YouTube channel.
  • Take action with PenAmerica.
  • Organize a group to pushback on KUSD book bans, there are lots of great resources on how to do this:

The Parent Playbook: A Step by Step Guide for Mainstream Moms Who Are Tired of the BS (you can also sign up for their helpful emails at the bottom of their website)

Organizing to Defeat Book Bans In Your Community

Fight For The First Guide

GLADD Book Bans: A Guide for Community Response and Action

National Coalition Against Censorship Action Kit

United to Read Guide

  • RUN FOR SCHOOL BOARD!!! We have a great training coming up that progressives interested in running for office or helping on a campaign can attend right here in Kenosha. Learn more and register here. The Kenosha County Democratic Party also provides training and resources for people interested in running for office!
  • Read banned books.


Parents in Kenosha hold diverse views on appropriate book content in schools, including discussions on sexuality, gender, and LGBT-related content.

It's important to recognize that all parents, regardless of their opinion about books, care deeply about their children's well-being and education.

Each parent has the right to determine what their own child reads.

No parent has the right not to dictate what other parent's children can read.

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