By Drew Anderson, Director of Campaigns & Rapid Response |
November 21, 2019
Buckhannon Pride in West Virginia: Petition Against Banning a Children’s Book at the Upshur County Public Library
WDTV: Residents not happy after LGBTQ children’s book decision postponed
NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today spoke out after the Upshur County Public Library chose to postpone a public hearing on whether to ban the Prince & Knight, a story about a prince who falls in love with a brave knight, from its shelves and away from children and families. The decision to delay last night’s meeting followed an onslaught of media attention after the Library pulled the children’s book from its shelves. GLAAD is now working with Buckhannon Pride, a local LGBTQ organization in central West Virginia, to amplify a Change.org petition calling on the Library to keep the book.
Prince & Knight, published by Little Bee Books in partnership with GLAAD, chronicles the tale of a prince who falls in love with a brave knight. The story is written by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. School Library Journal called it an “illuminating fairy tale for young readers.” The book is currently available on Amazon and at other national retailers.
Prior to today’s hearing, Upshur County Public Library pulled Prince & Knight from its shelves after a formal complaint was filed by a local pastor. The pastor released an anti-LGBTQ screed social media claiming the book “is a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle.”
“The Upshur County Public Library decision to remove Prince & Knight from its shelves is an act of discrimination, plain and simple,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “Inclusive children’s books never ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world. Instead, LGBTQ youth in the West Virginia community are excluded and are being told they do not belong in their hometown.”
The local pastor’s remarks as well as word of the public hearing has already gained local and national attention. Buckhannon Pride, the local LGBTQ organization, created a Change.org petition calling on LGBTQ West Virginians and allies to demand the Upshur County Public Library reverse course and make LGBTQ-related children’s books available to LGBTQ youth and families with LGBTQ children.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a letter to the Upshur County library board earlier this week noting:
“Public libraries are shared community institutions intended to serve the information needs of everyone who resides in the community. In particular, the public library has a responsibility to represent a broad range of materials in its collection and to meet the needs of everyone in the community it serves – not just the most vocal, the most powerful, or even the majority. Individual library users have the right to voice their concerns about a library book and select different materials for themselves and their own families, but those objecting to particular books should not be given the power to restrict other users’ right to access those books.”
Daniel Haack, the author of Prince & Knight, also provided a statement to GLAAD:
“It’s been so heartening to hear from all the local parents and community members who are standing up in support of the book and its celebration of love and acceptance. In many ways, it’s just like the brave prince and knight facing the dragon to protect the vulnerable citizens of their kingdom, and whatever happens, the children of Buckhannon will know they still have plenty of kind, loving and inclusive neighbors.
Prince & Knight is meant to be a fun little adventure story that also just happens to better reflect the reality of millions of families not seen in other children’s stories. If the protesters are worried that reading this book will turn someone gay, I can easily refer them to all the gay adults who grew up only reading about straight romances.”
Dannie Stiles, President of Buckhannon Pride spoke with GLAAD and offered the following quote:
“We at Buckhannon Pride try to set an example of diversity within rural West Virginia. It has been a tough year for our LGBT community within our state, from one of our state delegates using derogatory language in the people’s house, to a Drag Queen Story Time in Morgantown having to cancel due to threats on the Queens lives, our towns non-discrimination ordinance failed to pass and now a book being censored. LGBTQ folks are part of this great town and state. Parents of all walks of life and backgrounds use our local libraries various resources to teach community-based values to their families. Things such as being kind to your neighbor, even if they do not look or love like you. Upshur County Residents and West Virginians are a hard-working, community minded people. many do not share the belief that censoring or removing of reading material of public libraries is in the best interest of the public. Books like “Prince and Knight present a unique perspective for teaching these qualities of respecting those who think, look or act differently than the reader. This series of books also offers an opportunity for loving and kind parents to teach their children community mindedness and a respect for the LGBTQ+ population.”
Prince & Knight tells the tale of a noble prince who is in line to take the throne. Together with his parents, they search the land far and wide to find a worthy bride, but the prince doesn’t find what he is looking for in the princesses they meet. While away, a terrible dragon threatens their land, so the prince rushes back to save his kingdom where he is met by a brave knight. Together they defeat the dragon and find love in the process. More info on the book available here.