Prince & Knight, written by Daniel Haack with illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a picture book about a prince’s quest to find true love. Published in May 2018, the royal rejects a number of female suitors before finding his happily ever after with a handsome knight, whom he marries at the book’s end. This April, Haack and co-author Isabel Galupo released a lesbian version, Maiden & Princess.
But, as The Guardian reports, the book is no longer available at West Virginia’s Upshur County Public Library following criticism from Josh Layfield, a pastor at Calvary Chapel Mountain Highlands. In a Facebook post shared last Friday, Layfield said a “concerned citizen” alerted him to the book, prompting him to persuade the library director to have it removed.
“This is of great concern for everyone in this community,” Layfield wrote of the book’s content. “As a father of four boys I know my boys love princes, kings and rulers. They love knights in shining armor and they emulate these men by acting them out in play. This book is a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle. This book is deliberately appealing to their imagination, creativity and their innocence when they still think girls have ‘cooties.’ Children’s books, which are promoted by the state and put into circulation by taxpayer funds, should remain innocent. Unfortunately this is an intentional leading of children into sin and parents and citizens within this community must be mindful with what is happening.”
He went on to include a message “for the offended.”
“Please know that you are radically loved by a Holy God who wants to set you free from sin,” he wrote. “He has died for you and he longs to have an eternal relationship with you. You can have this if you simply humble your heart and repent. I am aware that there will be some offended at the actions of removing the book from the children’s section. I am also aware that you will be upset, emotionally charged by the fact that I think it necessary for parents and citizens to guard their children from such indoctrination. I know you will be tempted, and even given into such temptation to throw insults at me and those who believe like me. I want you to know however, that you are loved by the God of the Bible who has standards and is Holy. He came in the flesh to free you from your sins. I am praying that your eyes are opened and you put off the darkness and step into the light.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Layfield for further comment.
Indeed, the removal of the book — which was published by GLAAD in partnership with Little Bee Books — has been criticized by the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom and the West Virginia Library Association. GLAAD and local LGBTQ group Buckhannon Pride have also circulated a petition demanding that the book be put back on shelves.
“The decision to remove Prince & Knight from the shelves of the Upshur County Public Library is an act of discrimination, plain and simple,” GLAAD CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement obtained by Yahoo Lifestyle. “Inclusive children’s books do not ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world.”
Library officials are meeting on Wednesday afternoon to determine if the book should be reinstated. The Upshur County Public Library has not yet responded to Yahoo’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, Haack tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the controversy over the book is a “shame,” but is heartened by the support he’s received.
“Several local parents and community members reached out to me and my publisher just to let us know this was happening, and it's been so awesome to see them mobilizing and standing up in support of the book and against censorship and discrimination,” he says. “I loved going to the public library as a kid because it gave me — through books and other media — access to people who looked and acted and thought differently than me. It's a shame there are folks out there who want to limit that for today's kids and are trying to impose their narrow agenda on all the patrons of the library.”
Haack says the book — which has been targeted before — offers representation that kids might not otherwise see and is worth saving.
“I wrote Prince & Knight both for kids who might have two dads or two moms, as well as those who don't necessarily have openly LGBTQ people in their life,” he says. “For those kids, it's about showing that, hey, this exists, it's awesome to celebrate our differences and gay people are just as capable of being the hero as they are worthy of being in love. There are so few representations of LGBTQ people in children's media, which basically tells kids that they or their families or friends are somehow shameful, so I wanted to show that these stories can be told in a really kid-friendly and universal way.
“There have been a few other attempts to ban Prince & Knight at other libraries, but they seem to fail once people actually read the book and discover how innocuous it is,” he adds. “Most kids seem pretty unfazed once the prince and knight fall in love, and mostly they just want to re-read the battle with the dragon. At the same time, so many adults have told me how amazing a book like this would have been when they were young, so I think it clearly has a greater impact in terms of helping kids feel safe and accepted, which is exactly what this ban attempt is trying to destroy.”
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