October 18, 2023
We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) condemns the recent decision by Scholastic Book Fairs to segregate books that deal with race, gender, and sexuality in response to the rising spate of book bans and challenges across the country. In their statement, Scholastic makes the patently false assertion that their choice was to either separate these books or to simply not offer them.
There is, and always has been, another option: to stand up and fight for the rights of the marginalized.
We live in a diverse society. Students cannot opt out of their own diverse identities: it is simply their reality. We do not choose the color of our skin, our sexuality, or the bodies we are born into. When corporations, governments, and individuals capitulate to the demands of the vocal minority, our children are the ones who suffer the most. This action harms all children by depriving them of the opportunity to read about experiences that are different from their own.
Data around suicidality in LGBTQIA+ youth indicates that more than 80 percent of transgender individuals have considered and 40 percent have attempted suicide.(1) Further data from the CDC indicates that suicide rates in the BIPOC community are also on the rise,(2) as are hate crimes tied to racism, anti-semitism, and anti-Muslim rhetoric.(4)
Our youth deserve to have their identities affirmed and respected by the adults in their lives. They need to see themselves represented in books, to see and understand that they belong. We must give them access to books that may save their lives. When corporations, governments, and individuals capitulate to the bigoted demands of the vocal minority, our children are the ones who suffer the most.
Scholastic claims that their decision is in part to shield teachers and librarians from potential fallout, negative consequences educators might face by providing diverse books to students. Yet their actions are in direct opposition to the opinion of trained educators, 87 percent of whom believe that books should never be banned.(3) Book bans decrease students’ reading engagement, negatively impact teaching outcomes, and are causing educators to leave the profession entirely in record numbers.(3)
Diversity is not a choice. Scholastic must not treat history and the lived experiences of readers’ and authors’ diverse identities as something that may be ignored or opted out of. Scholastic may choose to either support diverse books completely or submit to bigotry and fascism. The actions taken by a person or corporation are a direct result of their values and priorities, and Scholastic’s recent misguided decision prioritizes profit over diversity and the welfare of students everywhere.
WNDB demands that Scholastic desegregate its Book Fairs — an institution that fostered a love of reading for generations of American children — and stand on the right side of history by using its strength and corporate resources to protect the freedom to read.
1. Austin, A., Craig, S. L., D’Souza, S., & McInroy, L. B. (2022). Suicidality Among Transgender Youth: Elucidating the Role of Interpersonal Risk Factors. Journal of interpersonal violence, 37(5-6), NP2696–NP2718. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260520915554
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, February 9). Notes from the field: Recent changes in suicide rates, by race and ethnicity and age group – United States, 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7206a4.htm?s_cid=mm7206a4_w
3. First Book Research & Insights – Diverse Books Impact Study. First Book. (2023). https://firstbook.org/solutions/diverse-books-study/
4. U.S. Department of Justice. (2023, October 17). Facts and statistics. Hate Crimes. https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/hate-crime-statistics