The Nebraska Republican Party faced a social media firestorm Friday for tweeting since-deleted graphic images along with unsupported claims about Nebraska’s school curriculum.
The controversial tweet was in response to a tweet from Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, questioning the Republican Party’s stance against gambling. Kleeb referred to the Nebraska GOP as “fun haters, job killers and freedom crushers.”
“Like fun haters against fellatio being taught to school age children?” the Nebraska GOP’s response read. “Well u are right!! We have principles and values, not ‘everything goes’ policies. Sorry to be sane.”
The tweet was accompanied with images that appeared to be from the graphic book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. One of the illustrations depicted two individuals engaging in oral sex. Another described and depicted methods of masturbation.
The Nebraska GOP later tweeted a response apologizing for the “graphic nature” of the tweet and stating that the tweet “showcases the hard facts of what materials and books are in Nebraska Schools.” That tweet has since been deleted, as has the initial tweet.
None of the tweets from the GOP provided any evidence that the book is present in Nebraska schools.
Nebraska GOP Chairman Eric Underwood issued a statement around 8:15 pm Friday stating that the post was not authorized and has been deleted. Underwood said the party’s outgoing communication director was responsible for the tweet and that the individual has been removed from the account and is no longer responsible for any NEGOP communication.
Jack Riggins, host of “Drive Time Lincoln” on KLIN-AM, has served as the state GOP’s communications lead since the state convention.
Underwood did not respond to a request for clarification on the identity of the person responsible for the posts.
The Nebraska GOP experienced significant changes in its leadership ranks at the party convention in early July. Delegates ousted then-Chairman Dan Welch and elected Underwood, chair of the Lancaster County GOP at the time, to serve out the remainder of Welch’s term. The change in chairman triggered a wave of resignations among the party’s executive ranks.
Kobabe’s memoir, which was first published in 2019, has been a topic of controversy since at least 2021 as several school districts across the country banned the book. The American Library Association, which maintains an annual list of the top 10 challenged books, reported that “Gender Queer” was the No. 1 most challenged book of 2021.
“Queer youth are often forced to look outside their own homes, and outside the education system, to find information on who they are,” wrote Kobabe, who is nonbinary. “Removing or restricting queer books in library and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who might not yet even know what terms to ask Google to find out more about heir own identities, bodes and health.”
Before the tweets were deleted, dozens of Twitter users responded questioning why the Nebraska GOP would share the graphic images and asking for them to provide proof the book is an any schools in the state.