North Carolina House Bill 2
Legislation in North Carolina denying civil liberties protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals has drawn condemnation, and calls for an economic boycott until the legislation is repealed. Despite their strong opposition to the legislation, independent booksellers in North Carolina have unfairly been caught in the crossfire. Notably, Sherman Alexie cancelled an event scheduled for May, denying children the opportunity to connect with this author.
A boycott of bookstores is counterproductive, and punishes booksellers unfairly. AAP supports independent booksellers in North Carolina in their vital role in promoting tolerance and understanding, and joins the American Booksellers Association and others in the following statement:
The governor of North Carolina recently signed into law House Bill 2, which repeals local ordinances protecting the civil liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This action is being vigorously protested across the country and includes threats to boycott North Carolina businesses. The boycott is a powerful weapon that seeks to influence politicians by threatening the economy of a state. However, a boycott can also harm innocent third parties. That appears to be happening in North Carolina.
A distinguished group of 269 children’s book authors and illustrators recently issued an open letter to North Carolina readers expressing their anger at the passage of H.B. 2 and calling for its repeal. The letter promised that we will never abandon our thousands and thousands of readers in North Carolina. It also assured them, we will continue to visit your schools and libraries. Although the letter does not refer explicitly to bookstores, North Carolina booksellers assumed that authors would continue to visit them as well. However, one best-selling author has cancelled an appearance as well as visits to local schools that had been arranged by an independent bookstore. There is growing concern among other booksellers in the state that they may also be boycotted.
We urge all authors and illustrators as well as their publishers not to boycott North Carolina bookstores. Independent booksellers opposed H.B. 2 in the legislature and are actively seeking its repeal. In addition, they have a long history of fighting efforts to censor books with LGBTQ themes.
The punishment for passing H.B. 2 should fall on the governor and state legislators, not on booksellers who play a vital role in promoting tolerance and diversity.