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Award-winning fiction, LGBTQ+ and ‘Wizard of Oz’ re-creation: These 18 books in LCSD1 libraries are suggested to be ‘sexually explicit’

Multiple titles are winners or nominees of an award given out annually by the Young Adult Library Services Association.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On Dec. 5, the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees passed a controversial amendment to its Library Media Services policy, which allows parents and faculty members to nominate library titles they believe are inappropriate. To date, 18 titles at Cheyenne high schools have been added to the list.

A list of library titles that may contain “sexually explicit content” or “sexual conduct” is currently available on the LCSD1 website. This is because since Dec. 11, Cheyenne and Laramie County residents have been “nominating” books deemed to contain the criteria for “sexually explicit content.” The list’s 18 current titles include novels that explore teenage sexuality, stories that revolve around LGBTQ+ individuals, a story set in the “Wizard of Oz” universe and several award-winning young adult fiction books.

All books will be reviewed by a District Library Material Review Committee, which will determine if the books meet the criteria for “sexually explicit” content. The committee will make a recommendation based on its findings. The school superintendent will then decide whether the book should be flagged as “sexually explicit” or not. As of the time of reporting, no books have been added to the district’s “identified” books list.

Nearly all nominated books are only available at Cheyenne high schools, though one title is at a junior high school.

To view the policy’s full definitions of “sexually explicit content” and “sexual conduct,” view pages two and three of the document below.

‘Sexually explicit’ books in LCSD1 libraries

The following book descriptions are taken from the cataloging website and social media platform Goodreads.

“This Book is Gay” (2014) by Juno Dawson

Location: South High School

Description: “Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Transgender. Straight. Curious. This book is for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. This book is for anyone who’s ever dared to wonder. This book is for YOU.

“There’s a long-running joke that, after ‘coming out,’ a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

“Inside you’ll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask: from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more. This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it’s like to grow up LGBT also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

“You will be entertained. You will be informed. But most importantly, you will know that however you identify (or don’t) and whomever you love, you are exceptional. You matter. And so does this book.”

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (1999) by Stephen Chbosky

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools; Audiobook

Description: “This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

“This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

“Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.”

“The Nowhere Girls” (2017) by Amy Reed

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools

Description: “Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

“Who are the Nowhere Girls?

“They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

“Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

“Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

“Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

“When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

“Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.”

“Looking for Alaska” (2005) by John Green

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools; Audiobook

Description: “Before. Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave ‘the Great Perhaps’ even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then….

“After. Nothing is ever the same.”

“Looking for Alaska” received the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2006.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (2012) by Jesse Andrews

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools

Description: “Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

“Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

“Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

“And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.”

“Damsel” (2018) by Elana K. Arnold

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools

Description: “The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

“When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

“However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows—and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.”

The book was nominated for the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2019.

“Homegoing” (2016) by Yaa Gyasi

Location: South High School

Description: “A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, ‘Homegoing’ heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

“Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of ‘Homegoing’ follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, ‘Homegoing’ makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

“Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. ‘Homegoing’ is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.”

“Flamer” (2020) by Mike Curato

Location: South & Triumph high schools

Description: “‘I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.’

“‘I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel … unsafe.’

“It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.”

“Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” (1995) by Gregory Maguire

Location: East & South high schools

Description: “When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

“Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. ‘Wicked’ is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

“An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.”

“America” (2002) by E.R. Frank

Location: South & Triumph (lost copy) high schools

Description: “Acclaimed author E.R. Frank writes provocative fiction. America, a foulmouthed, yet endearing 16-year-old, attempts suicide and is placed in the care of psychiatrists at Ridgeway mental hospital.

“There he learns to cope with a past filled with neglect and mistreatment with the help of Dr. B. Alternating between America’s present-day stay at the hospital and his past, living in the care of his older brothers, ‘America’ is a stark exploration of the mind of an inner-city youth.”

“Eleanor & Park” (2012) by Rainbow Rowell

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools; Audiobook

Description: “Set over one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.”

The book was nominated for the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2014.

“The Poet X” (2018) by Elizabeth Acevedo

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools; eBook

Description: “Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

“But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

“With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

“Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”

“The Poet X” won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2019.

“I’ll Give You the Sun” (2014) by Jandy Nelson

Location: Central, East, South & Triumph high schools; McCormick Junior High; Audiobook

Description: “At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

“Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways… but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

“This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.”

This title won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2014. It was also nominated for the 2014 Goodread’s Choice Awards’ Best Young Adult Fiction.

“Monday’s Not Coming” (2018) by Tiffany D. Jackson

Location: East, South & Triumph high schools; eBook; Audiobook

Description: “Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

“As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?”

“The Circle” (2013) by Dave Eggers

Location: South High School

Description: “When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

“As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

“Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

“What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”

“Jack of Hearts (and other parts)” (2018) by L.C. Rosen

Location: South High School

Description: “‘My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it’s going to be weird for everyone’s first time, though.’

“Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys — sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘It could be worse.’

“He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.

“But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.

“As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…”

“Tricks” (2009) by Ellen Hopkins

Location: Central, South & Triumph high schools; Audiobook

Description: “Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching … for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don’t expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words ‘I love you’ are said for all the wrong reasons.

“Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story—a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, ‘Can I ever feel okay about myself?’“

“Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex” (2017) by Hannah Witton

Location: South High School

Description: “SEXTING. VIRGINITY. CONSENT. THE BIG O… Sex-positive vlogger Hannah Witton covers it all.

“Nobody really has sex all figured out. So Hannah Witton wrote a book full of honest, hilarious (and sometimes awkward) anecdotes, confessions, and revelations. Hannah talks about doing it safely. Doing it joyfully. Doing it when you’re ready. Not doing it. Basically, doing it the way you want, when you want (if you want).

“’Doing It’ works as an introduction to sex as well as a guidebook for those who are already sexually active, with insight on topics such as healthy relationships, porn, contraception, sex shaming, and more. Approachable and empowering, this is a go-to resource for all things s-e-x.”

CLARIFICATION, Jan. 31, 2024: The headline has been updated to reflect that one of the books on the list is a book based on “Wizard of Oz” characters.