Author hits back after library removes LGBT picture book from shelves

‘Gay adults grew up reading straight romances,’ says writer Daniel Haack after US library withdraws Prince & Knight from shelves

The author of a rhyming picture book removed from the shelves of a West Virginia library has hit back at protesters, suggesting that anyone concerned the book could “turn someone gay” should remember “all the gay adults who grew up only reading about straight romances”.

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack was pulled from West Virginia’s Upshur County public library earlier this week, according to local press reports, after a local church minister called it “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle”. The book tells the story of a prince and a knight who fall in love, ending on the lines: “And on the two men’s wedding day, the air filled with cheer and laughter, / for the prince and his shining knight would live happily ever after”. Pastor Josh Layfield told parents that putting the book on library shelves was “an intentional leading of children into sin”.

The removal drew widespread criticism. The National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom and West Virginia Library Association called on library board members to return Prince & Knight to their shelves.

A spread from Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack. The children’s book has been withdrawn by a library in West Virginia
A spread from Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack … the children’s book has been withdrawn by a library in West Virginia. Photograph: Mini Bee

“While it may not be right for every family of Upshur County, it unquestionably serves the information needs of many of the families and young people residing in Upshur County,” they said in a letter to board members. “While we firmly believe that parents know their children best and should guide their children’s reading, one parent’s – or community member’s – belief that a book is inappropriate for their family should not be grounds for restricting that title when the book may be a treasured favourite for other children and other families.”

The book was published by the monitoring and advocacy group GLAAD, in association with Little Bee Books. GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis called the decision to remove Prince & Knight “an act of discrimination, plain and simple”.

“Inclusive children’s books do not ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world,” she said.

Haack said it had 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 neighbours,” he said. “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.”

The library is set to hold a review on Wednesday to decide whether Prince & Knight should remain withdrawn due to its content.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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