The NCAC Free Speech Matters Benefit was a great success. Over 200 people came to the City Winery in downtown Manhattan to celebrate free speech and honor YA writer Lauren Myracle, school librarian Dee Ann Venuto, and YFEP 2009 Film Contest Winner Jordan Allen.

All three work hard to promote free expression. Lauren Myracle is a NYTimes bestselling author of the Internet Girls trilogy—ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r. She was the most censored author in 2009.

Dee Ann Venuto countered Glenn Beck’s 9/12 group challenge of LGBTQ books in her library in Rancocoas Valley High School, Mt. Holly, NJ.

Jordan Allen’s film Freedom Thieves won First Prize in NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest in 2009.

NCAC honorees Dee Ann Venuto, YA writer Lauren Myracle, and YFEN film contest winner Jordan Allen

School librarians like Dee Ann Venuto understand the importance of fighting censorship, “Censorship has implications, especially when a country-wide challenge to LGBTQ books is organized by Glenn Beck’s local 9/12 group and motivated by political, homophobic reaction to public education and Obama’s administration… People recognize removing books meant to guide adolescents undermines their intelligence and society’s diverse values.”

The evening started with actor David Staller, director and founder of the Gingold Theatrical Group as master of ceremonies.

Master of Ceremonies David Staller

Executive Director Joan Bertin introduced Lauren Myracle saying, “…Lauren is in very good company with the likes of Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, Pat Conroy, plus a raft of wonderful and much censored authors… We need you Lauren – and Judy [Blume] and Robie [Harris]… and all the other brave souls who will stand up to the sanctimonious people who think they know what’s best for everybody’s else’s kids.”

Joan Bertin honoring Lauren Myracle at the NCAC benefit

For more photos of the benefit, see our gallery on Flickr: