If you’re as nerdy as I am, perhaps you remember with a similar fondness the Scholastic Book Fair. Ours was around this time of year, as I recall. Parent volunteers would set up table after table after table of books in the GYM — double-bonus, since that usually meant no dodgeball for at least one day. My mother could usually be convinced to take me to the fair after school (massive understatement — apples don’t fall far from trees, and the woman is OBSESSED with books), but even if your parents weren’t the sort who understood why you HAD TO HAVE that shiny copy of The Boxcar Children or Sideways Stories from Wayside School or Harriet the Spy — a new copy, of your very own, a perfect rectangle that you would be the first to peel open — the school would lean on them to send you with a little spending money for the day your class went to the fair. (Triple-bonus: book fair, no gym, and less time in class.)
Scholastic makes money hand over fist at these things (and gives less back to the host school than they used to), as one would expect with a captive and coerced audience, but it’s hard to begrudge them a little profit for something as all-around good as the book fair.
Which is why it made me so sad to read this:
You have to wonder why an organization dedicated to getting students to read would decide to make censorship such an important part of their work. You also have to wonder why one of the leading organizations dedicated to helping students learn would decide to wallop a giant blow of discrimination toward gay and lesbian families and children of same-sex parents.
But that’s what Scholastic Books is doing by banning a book from its book fairs simply for the fact that the book contains a girl character who has two lesbian moms. The book in question is Lauren Myracle’s book Luv Ya Bunches, a new book that wittingly covers the trials, tribulations and friendships that a group of young girls go through in school.
And yes, the book is definitely, no question about it, being censored because it dares to suggest that not all children grow up in heterosexual households. Scholastic is up front about that:
The company sent a letter to Myracle’s editor asking the author to omit certain words such as “geez,” “crap,” “sucks,” and “God” (as in, “oh my God”) and to alter its plotline to include a heterosexual couple. Myracle agreed to get rid of the offensive language “with the goal—as always—of making the book as available to as many readers as possible,” but the deal breaker was changing Milla’s two moms.
“A child having same-sex parents is not offensive, in my mind, and shouldn’t be ‘cleaned up.'” says Myracle, adding that the book fair subsequently decided not to take on Luv Ya Bunches because they wanted to avoid letters of complaint from parents. “I find that appalling. I understand why they would want to avoid complaint letters—no one likes getting hated on—but shouldn’t they be willing to evaluate the quality of the complaint? What, exactly, are children being protected against here?”
And here’s where I get all misty (am I pregnant or just PMSing???) and fall in love with Myracle a little bit:
“Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents, just like Milla. It’s not an issue to clean up or hide away,” says Myracle. “In my opinion, it’s not an ‘issue’ at all. The issue, as I see it, is that kids benefit hugely from seeing themselves reflected positively in the books they read. It’s an extremely empowering and validating experience.”
So here’s what we need to do:
2. Especially if you’re a parent whose kids will have a book fair (or who just love Scholastic Books), let Scholastic know why appeasing a few testy weirdos who hate everyone who isn’t just like them is a bad business decision.
(Also: If, like me, you’re wondering whether or not I have been knocked up, I feel I should let you know that I’m up at 5am on a Sunday not to begin walking across the fields to church but because I’ve been throwing up much of the night. Gross. I sure as hell better be pregnant.)