Kids’ Right to Read Project Director Jamie Chosak interviewed author Maureen Johnson about her experiences with censorship, including the recent challenge against her book, The Bermudez Triangle, in Leesburg, Florida. Here’s an excerpt:
The Kids’ Right to Read Project: Challenges against The Bermudez Triangle have focused on ‘homosexual themes.’ Some commentators have identified this as an increasing trend. Would you like to comment on this?
Maureen Johnson: This “we aren’t banners, we just think those are adult themes and therefore the books must be labeled/moved to the adult section/require permission to take out” nonsense . . . why, exactly? What is particularly adult about being gay? There are gay kids, gay teens. They have to go on awkward first dates, like all the wrong people, obsess over their crushes, have their hearts broken, fall in love with friends, get permission from their parents to go out, try to borrow the car . . . There are loads of YA books about those things featuring heterosexual characters, and no one bats an eye. Why is it so adult if gay kids are doing it?
It’s not. It’s the same thing. Gay kids need to see their lives reflected in stories. And straight kids want to read these stories as well! Gay characters can’t be relegated to some dark corner of the shelf that you need a map to find and an ID to check out. To do so is basically saying to the gay kids, “There’s something dirty about you.” Anyone who would say that is the true filthmonger. Period.