A few weeks ago Triangle Square Books for Young Reader’s Facebook page was attacked by a wave of conservative homophobes. That the attacks and one-star ratings were instigated by a blogger who once videotaped herself eating bacon while ranting about Islamic terrorists was hideous enough. But the fact that she chose to egg on her followers with homo- and transphobic language during Pride Week was particularly galling. We debated about how to respond: send our own fleet to bomb her site? Thank posters for their opinions or call them out for bigotry? A constructive conversation between our two sides, as it were, seemed wildly optimistic at best. How do you reason with someone whose ultimate fact source is the Bible, who calls you "demonic" for suggesting that children learn the world has variety—in skin color, beliefs, and, yes, sexual orientation. By only telling their children Disney-ified stories of the world do these angry people think gay and trans people will cease to exist?
We tried to take the high road, to not blast these closed-minded ignoramuses and keep our cool. Instead we reached out to our community, to our excellent and beloved authors, our readers and book reviewers, to librarians and booksellers, and asked if they would counter the negativity with love (and 5-star ratings!). And they did. Within 24 hours we had a resounding chorus of support with almost 300 new 5-star ratings and reviews. And now 48 hours later, that number is up to over 450.
And not to take ourselves too seriously, we did have a good laugh over the exasperated post that insisted a child needs to learn about lasagna before one introduces the concept of sex. Lasagna?
There's little new in this debate unfortunately. Go reread Fahrenheit 451. Or check out the annual kerfuffle Focus on the Family makes over And Tango Makes Three or our own 10,000 Dresses. The "gay agenda" will poison our children, they cry. In our experience all any child ever asked for was a little understanding, the realization that they matter and that someone cares. But that kind of love, the kind that is reflected in Triangle Square books, will never resonate with those whose idea of letting a kid be a kid is to explain our world as a fantasy where everyone is white, straight, and, based on the majority of the books out there, probably male.
So to all of you who raised your voices in support of Triangle Square, and in support of Inno, Cory, and Marcus, of A is for Activist and Sex Is a Funny Word and 10,000 Dresses, and of all our wonderful children’s authors (you know who you are Rebecca Stefoff, Julia Alvarez, Emma Williams, Seymour Chwast, Meryl Danziger, Tamara Bower, Andri Magnason, Ali Berman, James Lecesne, Laurie Rubin, and everyone else)—THANK YOU! So go forth and read to a kid a book that is open-minded, with diversity, accepting of all, one nation under the rainbow flag, with liberty and justice for all.