Sunday, October 1, 2023

Censored for saying "gay" in Texas elementary schools (one month after Georgia)

A month after I was censored for saying "gay" during elementary school visits in Georgia, it happened again in Texas.

I must make clear that my experience in the schools themselves (as you will see below) was 100% positive.

Which makes the decision that superintendents made all the more misguided.

The letter I sent to administrators of Northside Independent School District (San Antonio):

Hope you are all well. 

I am the children's author who had the privilege of speaking at 11 eleven NISD schools from 9/18-28, but whose final visit scheduled for 9/29 (Henderson ES) was canceled the night before because two parents complained that I say the word "gay."

Neither the two parents who complained nor whichever of you canceled my talk have heard my talk, read my book, seen my documentary, or met me.

I came in good faith to your districtand hundreds of other communities in 30+ states and almost 20 countries over the past 20 yearsto share a multi-layered inspirational message. Hundreds of your kids will attest that I more than delivered on that. So did your staff:


(this tweet discovered/added here after emailing administrators)

"Gay" is simply a way to refer to a kind of love, as appropriate as mentioning a straight relationship (which I did multiple times, with no pushback).

The two parents whose ignorance you prioritized over a "amazing/inspiring/intriguing/captivating" presentation are not the victims. They have not and will never suffer because other people love differently than they do.

The victims are the LBGTQ members of your community because your action signals to them that their very existence is taboo to mention. You make them feel unsafe and unwanted.

I spoke with one of the parents who complained. I appreciated that he was willing to connect by phone, but he mostly raged and did not try to reflect on the bigger picture. He could not distinguish between sexual orientation (again, a topic kids as young as two understand) and sex. He said his kid does not need to hear about "Batman fucking Spider-Man." He said this will not end well for me. He said "You messed with the wrong person." This is the person you are defending.

When you have to choose between catering to tolerant or intolerant people, there is no choice

You gave in to the wrong side, and if you continue to do that, your legacy will be on the wrong side of history. Upholding discriminatory practices like this will drive more and more good educators and families from your district.

This happened to me in Georgia in August, and the national response was not favorable to people in your position. Here is just some of the press:

It is about to make the San Antonio press as well.

But you can still turn this into a positive by doing the following:

  1. apologizing to your community for putting the comfort of two people over the enrichment of an entire school by censoring an established author
  2. changing your (unwritten?) policy that stigmatizes the word "gay" in a country where same-sex marriage is legal and a district where gay people live, teach, and learn

I have also posted this letter publicly.

I remain optimistic that I can return to NISD to continue to share my messages of persistence, the adventure of primary research, the thrill of reading, the calling of speaking up for others, the need to give credit where it's due, and tolerance. 

Toward the end of my talks, I say: "Every change in history, no matter how big, starts with one person."

Which of you will be that person in Northside?

10/6/23 addendum: Here is local press coverage. It is not good.

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

The ignorant, close-minded types in the Southeast & Southwest, and throughout the Bible Belt, for that matter, will never admit they're wrong.