Crime

Dad who fought to ban ‘inappropriate’ LGBT+ books from schools charged with child molestation

Emily Chudy February 4, 2022
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Ryan Utterback at a school board meeting in October 2021 (NKC School District Board of Education)

A father from Missouri, United States, who campaigned to have LGBT+ books banned from schools has been charged with child molestation.

According to the Kansas City Star, Ryan Utterback, 29, was charged with child molestation by Clay County prosecutors on 14 December. He was also charged with misdemeanours for attempting to show pornographic material to a minor.

He returned to the court for a hearing on Thursday (3 February) and will return for a second hearing in March, according to KMBC.

The allegations come after Ryan Utterback, along with several other parents, spoke at a North Kansas City School District board meeting in favour of banning two library books they complained were inappropriate.

The books in question were graphic novel Fun Home by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and George M Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, both of which explore gender and sexuality for teens and young people.

The school district pulled the two books from school libraries in October 2021, however returned them following students speaking out against the ban, as well as a warning from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“I understand their struggles and it’s not lost on me. But again those conversations are to be had at home. Only I have their intimate understanding as to what is and isn’t appreciated for my children,” Utterback told KMBC at the time.

George M Johnson is the author of All Boys Aren’t Blue (Penguin)

According to KMBC, allegations include that Utterback sexually assaulted a child under the age of 12 in December 2020.

In a separate incident, Ryan Utterback allegedly made physical contact with a 14-year-old, who described it as “uncomfortable”.

Another allegation claims that Utterback showed pornography to a four-year-old child.

Ryan Utterback has pleaded not guilty.

Speaking to PinkNews after All Boys Aren’t Blue was banned by libraries in several US states, Johnson said: “Children and youth have rights too, and the library is for the public. No individual should be restricting what another can have access to.

“Furthermore, youth need to feel seen in books, and my book provides that for a lot of Black queer youth and non-Black queer youth.”

Johnson added that they would tell their young fans: “I will continue fighting for them to have access to my book and others, and to know that they are valid and have a whole community of folks that will protect that and their right to have stories.”

More: Homophobia, Missouri, United States

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