Bill Konigsberg the Proud Papa Bear
This past weekend NCTE was hosted in Houston, Texas. I did not get to go but as is my custom, I followed the hasthag on Twitter to see what books were being shared and what nuggets of wisdom I could learn from attendees. I was, however, shocked and saddened to learn about one speaker at a panel on book censorship who made openly homophobic comments. Author Bill Konigsberg was also on this panel and he spoke out fiercely against this hateful speech. He shares the text of his speech on his blog; it is powerful and moving and I hope that everyone will read it: https://billkonigsberg.com/2018/11/19/proud-fierce-papa-bear-the-speech/.
As Konigsberg points out, not only was this panel speakers comments born out of a place of bias and hate, they are factually incorrect. For example, the panel speaker insists that the number of LGBTQAI+ teens is incredibly small, citing older statistics. Current research suggests that in actuality, less than half of all teens identify as straight and cis-gendered and slightly more than 50% of teens identify in some way as being LGBTQAI+.
As someone who works with kids and teens, I feel it is important that we value and honor all teens. Bill Konigsberg said it best when he ended this blog post stating, “Where I draw the line is when she advocates against my children.” The kids that come into our libraries become are our children and we have a professional obligation to honor and serve them.
Please note: I have chosen to honor Konigsberg’s example and not name the panel speaker. I know that others have taken a different approach and feel that it is important to name this panel speaker to hold them accountable and I respect that approach as well.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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