The backlash against North Carolina's House Bill 2 has been just as swift as the legislation's passing. In a statement titled "An Open Letter to Our North Carolina Readers," 269 children's book authors protest the anti-trans bill, and express solidarity with those targeted by the state's hateful new law.
On March 23, the North Carolina House of Representatives, State Senate, and Governor Pat McCrory passed HB 2 in retaliation against an anti-discrimination law in Charlotte that, among other things, provided bathroom equality to non-binary individuals. HB 2 prevents non-state entities from passing their own anti-discrimination legislation, and creates a new protected class: "biological sex." North Carolina does not offer housing, employment, or other protections on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity.
Business and banking are big in North Carolina, and the state is already feeling the pinch of its decisions. On Tuesday, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that his company would not be moving forward with its planned Charlotte expansion, saying that HB 2 "violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture." Schulman said his team "remain[s] committed to working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn this discriminatory legislation, alongside all those who are committed to equality."
In that effort, PayPal joins legions of North Carolinians and activists in protest of HB 2. On March 27, three citizens sued the state for "violat[ing] the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution." The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from the ACLU, Equality North Carolina, and Lambda Legal.
Authors Phil Bildner, C. Alexander London, Meg Medina, and R.J. Palacio wrote "An Open Letter to Our North Carolina Readers." Among the 269 signatories are longtime children's lit heavyweights, including John Green, Cassandra Clare, Daniel Handler, Rick Riordan, Sarah Dessen, Libba Bray, Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Cabot, and David Levithan. Many relative newcomers to the YA scene — such as Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, Daniel Jose Older, Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir — also signed.
From the letter:
As artists, we strive to create books that promote acceptance of all people regardless of race, religion, or gender identity. We will continue to do so; however, we cannot and will not support a state government that promotes discrimination. Each one of us will have to consider our participation in conferences and festivals in North Carolina while this law is in place.
But you have our word that we will never abandon our thousands and thousands of readers in North Carolina. We stand with those who share our guiding principles and fundamental beliefs of equality, inclusion, and fair treatment. Thus, we will continue to visit your schools and libraries. We will spread kindness and inspire compassion and hope, as we believe books, in their best moments, always have and always will.
Read all of "An Open Letter to Our North Carolina Readers," and spread it around as far as you can.