NCAC Protests Cancellation of Ellen Hopkins Appearance at Teen Lit Fest in Texas

An invitation to young adult novelist Ellen Hopkins to speak about her experiences as a writer was rescinded by the Superintendent of the Humble (Texas) Independent School District after some parents complained about the content of her books. NCAC coordinated a letter of protest with five other national organizations.

After Hopkins was disinvited to Teen Lit Fest 2011, five other authors dropped out – including Brian Meehl, who was “yanked” by one of his own characters – in protest rather than participate in an event that had censored another author. Sadly for the students of the area, the program has been canceled. Some might blame the authors who withdrew, but we think full responsibility rests on the school officials who made the decision to censor Hopkins.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

We can conceive of no legitimate pedagogical rationale that could be advanced for excluding Ms. Hopkins. The invitation was withdrawn peremptorily, with no consultation or opportunity for different opinions to be expressed. The judgments of the professional educators and librarians who organized the event were simply ignored, but plainly they selected Ms. Hopkins because they believe that students would benefit from hearing her speak. …

The opinions of some should not be allowed to control the content of a program intended for all. Attendance at this event was not mandatory. Parents who disagreed with the decision to include Ms. Hopkins were free to keep their children from attending. However, they have no right to dictate what other people’s children can read, see, hear or think. …

We urge you to reconsider your decision and allow the event to proceed as originally planned. To deny all students access to an author because some people object to her views violates the rights of other students who want to meet her and hear her speak, and the rights of their parents not to have their own child’s education restricted to accommodate the demands of others.

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