A Michigan public school’s decision to ban a children’s book that features a gay character is making local news, and the superintendent’s assertion that LGBT-related material is unfit for a learning environment has outraged some.
The popular “Captain Underpants” series was praised in September when author-illustrator Dav Pilkey revealed one of its major characters is gay. In Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot, the 12th installment in the series, young Harold travels into the future and discovers he will someday marry a man.
That fact, Monroe School District superintendent Barry Martin explained, makes the book unsuitable for children. He told WXYZ that’s why he and the Parent-Teacher Organization decided to remove the book from the upcoming Arborwood Elementary School Book Fair.
“Most of the kids come in and they buy books and the parents aren’t part of the selection. In this case, we felt it was necessary that if this book was going to be purchased, the parent needed to be involved in that,” said Martin. “I support the decision of the parent group and the principal for handling it this way.”
Critics of the school’s decision suggest their actions are tantamount to anti-LGBT censorship, claiming children who intend to shop at the book fair have preemptively had their civil rights violated because they’re being refused the option of browsing and buying LGBT-related material.
As if foreseeing the potential drama, Pilkey issued the following statement when the book was released in September: “When it comes to books, we may not all agree on what makes for a good read, but I hope we can agree that letting children choose their own books is crucial to helping them learn to love reading.”
Martin noted that parents who wish to buy the book can do so via the Scholastic website, as if that’s some kind of progressive or inclusive option for families who feel slighted.