Massachusetts secretary of state candidate Rayla Campbell (R) appeared at a “Back the Blue” rally in Plymouth, Massachusetts last week where she reportedly brandished a copy of the book Gender Queer, claiming that it contains child pornography.
Gender Queer – the memoirs of a non-binary and asexual author – is one of the most challenged books of this year. It does not contain pornography, child or otherwise.
Video recorded after the event and posted to social media shows Campbell flipping through the book with a police officer. The clip led to rumors online that Campbell had been detained, that her car was searched, and even that she was arrested for possession of the book.
@marcusjohn_ Is a transphobe and homophobe running for office in MA #massachusetts #raylacambell #ma #politics #police #predator #backtheblue #blm #liberal #creep ♬ original sound – m
We are hearing that Rayla Campbell was late to her own "Back the Blue Rally" due to being detained by police. She was showing people the book "Gender Queer" and saying it was child porn, so someone reported her for possession of child porn. pic.twitter.com/8okJ8xVT5U
— Fashalert MA (@FashalertMA) August 16, 2022
However, as Newsweek reports, the rumors of Campbell’s arrest were false. Captain Kevin J. Manuel of Plymouth PD said, “Rayla Campbell was not arrested by our department, nor am I aware of her being arrested anywhere else. She also has not been accused/investigated for any crimes in Plymouth.”
“An anonymous person accused her of holding a book containing child pornography,” a department representative wrote. “Officer asked to view it and she showed him the book. Officer found no child pornography in the book. She was not detained nor was she or her car searched.”
Pro-LGBTQ activists and allies protested the “Back the Blue” event as well as Campbell’s campaign.
Campbell has a history of making outlandish claims about Massachusetts’s public education system. At the state GOP party convention in May, she asserted with no evidence that fifth graders were being encouraged to perform sex acts on each other. She also attacked Gender Queer.
“This is not sexual education, this is child porn and sex trafficking. This book is being pushed out in our public schools,” Campbell said of Maia Kobabe’s illustrated memoir.
As CBS Boston reported at the time, Gender Queer is not in fact part of any public school curriculum. It has, however, become one of the most often challenged books in the U.S., and has been removed from library shelves around the country.
Campbell is running unopposed in the September 6 Republican primary. She will likely face either incumbent Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin (D) or Democratic primary challenger Tanisha Sullivan in November.