A law affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in North Carolina has spurred 269 authors and illustrators of children’s literature to write an open letter to young readers in the state.
The document is in response to the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, a law directing all public schools, government agencies, and public college campuses to require that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities be designated for use only by people based on their “biological sex” stated on their birth certificate.
The letter was crafted by authors Phil Bildner, C. Alexander London, Meg Medina, and R.J. Palacio. Among the signatories are Laurie Halse Anderson, Katherine Applegate, Jay Asher, Chris Crutcher, Matt de la Peña, Jack Gantos, Rita Williams Garcia, John Green, Ellen Hopkins, Jeff Kinney, David Levithan, Patrick Ness, Jason Reynolds, Rick Riordan, and Jacqueline Woodson.
The letter, a portion of which appears below, and complete list of signatories is being formally released by School Library Journal.
As artists, we strive to create books that promote acceptance of all people regardless of race, religion, or gender identity. We will continue to do so; however, we cannot and will not support a state government that promotes discrimination. Each one of us will have to consider our participation in conferences and festivals in North Carolina while this law is in place. But you have our word that we will never abandon our thousands and thousands of readers in North Carolina. We stand with those who share our guiding principles and fundamental beliefs of equality, inclusion, and fair treatment. Thus, we will continue to visit your schools and libraries. We will spread kindness and inspire compassion and hope, as we believe books, in their best moments, always have and always will.
Palacio, author of Wonder (Knopf, 2012), was the impetus. “I generally avoid talking about politics publicly, but this legislation isn’t about politics. It’s about human rights. If one person’s human rights are violated, every human’s rights are violated,” she said. She reached out to Medina and Bildner, who in turn contacted London. “Whenever we visit schools, we often find ourselves talking about kindness and empathy. It was time to walk the talk,” said picture book and middle grade author Bildner.
“The authors who’ve signed our open letter are not a corporation. We’re not part of a union. We don’t all work together….All we are is a small group of people who write books for a large number of children,” Palacio told SLJ. Corporate boycotts in North Carolina have been part of the reaction to the law.
London, author of the “Accidental Adventures” series, wanted to make sure his readers know their lives are not invisible. Medina, who is active in the We Need Diverse Books movement, sees the letter as “confirmation that our children’s book community is filled with people who genuinely care about and advocate for young people.”
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