Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mentioning sexual orientation during an author presentation, part 2

A librarian who heard me keynote a conference (in which I tell the Bill Finger story) asked to book me for her Virginia school.

With one request:

In an effort to avoid potential parental objections, we are requesting that the [sexual] orientation [of Bill Finger's son Fred] be left out. Before reading your blog, the concern didn't occur to me, but given the response from the administrator at one particular school, I am trying to be proactive. It is my understanding that this is not how you prefer to give this presentation, nor is it how we prefer it to be presented, however, we have to consider the sensitivity of our diverse community. I don't want any negative talk to take away from the great message and experience that the students are going to have. I hope you can appreciate and understand our request.

My reply:

The purpose of that blog post is the opposite of this request. I am glad that omitting mention of a person's sexual orientation is not how your school wants to present itself because I will not omit the fact that Fred Finger was gay. It is a part of life, it is in the book, it is integral to the story, and omitting it would be disrespectful to the family (and beyond). The value of my presentation far outweighs the risk of an intolerant parent voicing a concern.
Gay marriage is legal in this country. The authors/illustrators of many books in your school library are gay. Surely some of the students in your diverse community are gay, even if they don't yet know it. Perhaps some of their parents are in same-sex relationships. Would those parents be allowed in your school the same as any others?
Part of teaching our kids to treat all as equals and to embrace diversity is acknowledging same-sex relationships as openly as we discuss male-female relationships. Love is love.
I look forward to our time together!

Her reply:

I wanted to apologize if my last communication was offensive in any way as it was not my intention. I agree with your stance wholeheartedly in that it is an integral part of the story. Love is love is love.

The assembly proceeded as planned.

Lessons here:

  • Be civil.
  • Stand up for others.
  • Give people a chance.

In other words, no new lessons here.

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