Never let the bullies win!03 February 2012
I received the following email from a librarian in Wyoming today:
Our school is currently considered junior high school grades 7-9, but next year we will have only grades 7-8. We are currently going through the process of defending your book Lord Loss to allow it to stay on our library shelves. A parent picked up the book and looked at the cover, read the back, and immediately decided that it "promoted inappropriate values" and was not "school appropriate". The parent filled out a form requesting that the book be removed from all our school libraries in the district. He feels the age group for this book is "18+ out of educational system"; however, all of your books are widely enjoyed by our school population. The first step is a meeting with the parent, principal, and librarian. That meeting has taken place and the parent is still forging ahead with his challenge. He questions the judgment of the librarians to have the book in the library, and he questions the reviewers summaries. Furthermore, he questions who determines you being labeled as a young adult author. The next step in our process is to again have the parent, librarian, and principal in a meeting, but to also include a second parent and English teacher to the committee. I am asking if you have any resources I may print out to take to our next meeting. Also, if you have anything else that you think would help support us in keeping your book on our shelves please send it to me. Thank you so much for your time and efforts.
I sent the librarian some of the many hugely supportive emails that I have been sent over the years by parents, teachers and children, all of whom considered my books not only appropriate but beneficial. I hope that helps get this disruptive parent's objections overruled, not because I want to see my books stay on the shelves, but because people like this should never be given their own way. This guy is a bully, trying to force his view upon others, to make everyone toe a line of his drawing. I've no problem with parents deciding my books are not suitable for their children -- in fact I wish that more parents would spend more time keeping in touch with their child's reading habits, guiding and encourage and, where they deem necessary, censoring. But how dare someone try to decide what is suitable for other people's children?!? That's insulting and insensitive. Unfortunately, bigots like this often shout loudly and hammer away at the system, knowing that although librarians very rarely crumble, principals and local governors sometimes do. We need to fight them at every step, never let them ban a book, never let them set OUR reading agenda, never let them drag us down to their level of happy ignorance. This librarian is fighting the good fight, and if any of you ever find yourself in a similar position (whether as a parent, teacher, librarian or student) I hope that you will fight the good fight too, stand up for what you believe in, and not just slink away and let the bullies enjoy another win. No country can ever be a "land of the free" if small-minded thugs are allowed to chip away at our freedoms and force their views on the young of the community.