Tamron Hall spars with moms on live TV over uproar about Gender Queer book in schools: 'I don't agree'

·4 min read

Journalist Tamron Hall was accused of having a "slant" to her questioning during a live talk show interview with two moms who support banning writer Maia Kobabe's book Gender Queer: A Memoir from school libraries.

Thursday's episode of The Tamron Hall Show saw the Emmy-winning host engaging in a heated discussion with Tiffany Justice and Pamela Macek, who advocated for public institutions to remove Kobabe's illustration-based novel about gender identity from American schools. Hall referenced Justice's alleged support for Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis — a proponent of the state's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill that limited educational conversations around sexual orientation and gender identity — noting that Justice's political stance indicated she wasn't advocating for the rights of all parents, "but parents who are like you." As Hall's audience applauded, Justice clapped back.

"That would be completely untrue. Here's the thing: I'm seeing a slant on this show and the mainstream media. This is a disingenuous conversation," Justice said, before Hall cut her off by saying, "You're a member of the Tam Fam, as far as I'm concerned. Just because people applaud doesn't mean there's a slant, that means they differ in opinion, so I can't let you do that. That, I can't let you do, because I'll always welcome people who have a different [view]."

Tamron Hall Banned Books Week
Tamron Hall Banned Books Week

Tamron Hall/YouTube Tamron Hall was accused of having a 'slant' to her questioning over banning the 'Gender Queer' book from schools

Justice reiterated that she didn't think the audience was wrong, and instead targeted Hall's "line of questioning" on the matter. She went on to criticize Hall, telling the host that she didn't appreciate her asking her if she stood behind DeSantis.

"I didn't ask you that," Hall stated, though Justice insisted that she did. "I did not," Hall repeated. My question is are you a parental organization or a political organization?"

"We are a parental rights organization," Justice responded, "but politics matter because policies matter, because people matter…. There's a limited amount of room in a school district library, a public school library, and I think every voice should be heard in deciding what should be in that library."

Earlier in the episode, Macek, who previously spoke out against Gender Queer in New Jersey at a Wayne Hills High School board meeting in October 2021, called the book "straight up pornography" for its visual exploration of Kobabe's gender journey outside the binary system.

"My solution — or my suggestion — was that there should be a section in the library [for] these books, [so children can read them] with parental supervision," Macek said of the illustrated book. "If these were actually photographs, there would be prosecution, I believe, but because it's illustration, it's permissible and it's not illegal. The author has every right to have her book, and what she does in her bedroom is not my business, and it's not my children's business."

Hall ended the segment with Macek by telling her, "Yeah, but you made it your business when you removed a book from a public library."

In August, a Virginia judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to both limit the work's distribution to minors.

"I absolutely see it as part of a wide-scale political attack. I actually don't take almost any of it personally, certainly because of how often people who complain about my book openly state that they have not read it. I see it as part of the organized effort to erase trans, queer and nonbinary voices from the public sphere," Kobabe told USA Today. "I see it as part of the movement of different states limiting access to trans healthcare and trans students' rights to be involved in activities, from sports to clubs to journalism. I see it along the lines of the 'Don't Say Gay' bill in Florida. It all feels like many parts of this really damaging and upsetting and worrying effort to make it harder and harder for trans and nonbinary people to exist in public."

Tamron Hall airs weekdays in syndication. Check your local listings for timing in your area.

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