Missouri man charged with second-degree child molestation after he tried to ban LGBTQ books from Missouri schools.
Ryan Utterback is a 29-year old parent from Kansas City. He also faces misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and, in another case, the misdemeanor misdemeanor furnishing or trying to furnish pornographic material for a minor.
Utterback spoke at a school board meeting last November. This was first reported by KMBC-TV (an ABC affiliate) to support the removal of books from North Kansas City Schools libraries depicting sexual acts.
Utterback presented enlarged prints from two pages of the award-winning graphic memoir, "Fun Home" during another school board meeting. A member of a parent group fighting for the ban spoke. He argued that giving the material to a child is "solicitation to a minor."
According to court documents, Utterback is accused of touching a 12-year old girl underneath her clothes and rubging a teenager's legs under her jeans in two separate instances in 2020. In 2021, another case was alleged that Utterback showed pornographic video footage starting at age 4.
Utterback will next appear in court on March 10th. David Bell, Utterback's attorney, declined to comment.
North Kansas City Schools declined comment.
The American Library Association has long listed LGBTQ-inclusive titles as the top banned-book list: Titles that feature lesbian, gay and bisexual themes made 50% of the 20 most challenging and banned books in the decade 2010-19. Deborah Caldwell Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, stated that while there have been challenges to LGBTQ content in the past, they are "constant". She also said to NBC News that she had witnessed a "chilling uptick in previous years.
Caldwell-Stone stated that he has been working at ALA for over 20 years and had never witnessed such a large number of new challenges.
Mary O'Hara is the rapid response manager for GLAAD's LGBTQ media advocacy group. She stated in an email that books with challenges in schools are often subject to an evaluation by literacy and education experts, who then read them through in full to determine their academic merit and social merit. Many of these books are then returned to the library shelves.
O'Hara stated that book ban advocates have tried for years to make inaccurate claims about LGBTQ representation in films, TV, books and ads. However, other media with narratives or themes about opposite-sex relationships, even those with graphic violence or sex, are not targeted.
and Utterback are the ones who favor banning them. They also raise the question of parental rights when it comes to choosing what books to expose their children to. O'Hara stated that the majority of recently targeted books have LGBTQ- and race-inclusive storylines.
They stated that "LGBTQ people, Black people, and other people, are parents too and have a say in their children’s education."
Justice Horn, a Kansas City LGBTQ advocate, was present at Utterback's November school board meeting. He was the first Black student president at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Horn stated that Utterback's allegations were "moral of the story" and that book bans don't protect children. "Moreover, book bans do not protect children. Every lawmaker should be aware of this."
Horn stated that the "heroes of the story" are the North Kansas City students, who spoke in opposition to these bans before the school board.
He said, "They are making sure that none of our stories get erased." "We'll continue to read about them even after those who want to ban books are gone."