Teacher bans author’s books because she retweeted a trans support group

a close up shot of Robin Stevens, she has a bob haircut and is wearing rectangle glasses

A children’s author has had her books removed from a school because she once retweeted Mermaids.

Mermaids is a UK charity that supports young trans and gender diverse people.

A post on the notoriously transphobic parenting forum, Mumsnet, began with a mother expressing her annoyance that her teen daughter’s school wanted to support her transition. But her mother did not want her transitioning at that age.

Somehow the thread turned to fiction books for young people when a Mumsnet user, silentcrow, singled out author, Robin Stevens.

Silentcrow began by recommending Stevens’ mystery books, but their recommendation came with a warning.

‘Be aware the author retweets Mermaids – most notably when the recent investigation over lottery funding was happening,’ silentcrow wrote.

‘The most recent book has the main character, at 15, come out as lesbian (obviously not wrong in and of itself but I am automatically suspicious of uncritical support of Mermaids).

‘We have taken the decision not to stock any more of this series in our primary school as the characters are facing challenges more appropriate for older children. It’s sad because I genuinely like the books up to this point but we won’t endorse thoughtless wokery.’

#ThoughtlessWokery

Stevens found out about the post from a friend. Even though not officially affiliated with Mermaids, Stevens has donated money to them. Stevens said ‘I’m very supportive of the great work they do with transgender and gender diverse children and their families’.

‘The thing I found upsetting was not that they disagreed with me, but that they were using the disagreement as a reason to ban my books in their school,’ Stevens told Gay Star News.

‘My support for Mermaids has nothing to do with the books I write, and the fact that one of my main characters comes out in my latest book does not make my series any less appropriate for primary-school aged children.’

People came out in support of Stevens, buying her books and letting her know they loved her work.

‘I’ve been overwhelmed by positive responses from young queer readers (and young allies) about Daisy’s coming out – it was a plot point that felt important to me to write, but it clearly means even more to them,’ she said.

‘Seeing a character who they can relate to in a popular children’s book series has given them a lot of joy and confidence, and it’s deeply saddening that both straight and queer kids at this teacher’s school won’t have the chance to read the book.’

Thinking again of the children, Stevens hoped the children had the access to support they need ‘whatever their identity’,

‘My generation lost so much because LGBTQ+ identities weren’t discussed with us – I don’t want that mistake to be repeated with this generation, and that’s a big part of why I write the books I do,’ Stevens said.

Death in the Spotlight

One of the books singled out on the Mumsnet post was Stevens’ Death in the Spotlight. The story features Daisy Wells, a 15-year-old detective who comes out as queer in the book.

Stevens understood why it was so important to feature queer characters in books.

‘It matters desperately to me that Daisy, like many of my favourite people and some of my most loyal readers, is queer, and I wanted to make sure that I got the announcement of that fact right,’ she said.

‘Queer readers of all ages are suddenly able to see themselves in Daisy in a way they never expected, and I’ve been overwhelmed to realize, once again, how much representation matters.’

Let’s get creative

Stevens and her husband, David Stevens, decided to get creative and use the backlash to raise critical funds for Mermaids.

They’re now selling ‘thoughtful wokery’ t-shirts. Their plan is to turn ‘the hateful slogan into something positive’ and will give all of the proceeds to Mermaids.

‘We hope that we can give the charity money as well as our support, and we hope that we’ve turned this unpleasant story into some good news,’ Stevens said.

Author: Shannon Power

The post Teacher bans author’s books because she retweeted a trans support group appeared first on Gay Star News.

National lottery to ‘review’ £500,000 donation to trans charity after backlash

a headshot of susie green who has bob length blond hair and is wearing a black blazer

A national lottery donation of £500,000 (US$631,000) to a UK trans charity is under review after anti-trans activists complained.

The Big Lottery Fund gives million of pounds to charities and community groups every year. It uses money raised by players of The National Lottery to allocate the funds.

The national lottery awarded £500,000 to Mermaids, an award winning charity that supports young people with gender identity issues and their families. It had planned to use the money to open 45 centers around the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund has donated to Mermaids three times previously. It has given Mermaid three separate donations of £10,000 since 2015.

But an article in The Sunday Times which labelled Mermaids as ‘aggressive’ and that ‘campaigns for children to be given prohibited sex-change treatment’ led to a severe backlash against the funding decision.

Anti-trans backlash

Lead by Father Ted creator and anti-trans tweeter, Graham Linehan, a campaign on parenting forum, Mumsnet, called for the donation to be revoked.

‘I was a bit knocked back today when I saw the story about Mermaids being given whatever insane amount it is from the National Lottery. The idea of 45 Mermaids clinics opening around the country is terrifying,’ he wrote.

Linehan instructed his anti-trans supporters to email the Big Lottery Fund’s CEO, Dawn Austwick.

Big Lottery Fund confirmed a lot of people had contacted them about the planned donation.

We have received a range of correspondence in relation to a proposed grant to Mermaids, expressing both concern and support regarding this organisation,’ a spokesperson for Big Lottery Fund told Gay Star News.

‘We’re grateful to those who have taken the time to write to us, and in light of the nature and volume of the communication we have received, we have decided to undertake a review of this grant.’

‘Truly morally corrupt individual’

Trans and LGBTI advocates have condemned the backlash.

Twitter user @mimmymum advocates for trans children anonymously on social media. Her family used the services of Mermaids during her child’s transition.

She told Gay Star News that Mermaids provides a much needed safe space for trans young people.

‘I find it incomprehensible and deeply upsetting that a man with enormous influence like Graham Linehan is encouraging others to attack Mermaids,’ she said.

‘He has no knowledge about what Mermaids does, doesn’t have a transgender child, and as far as I am aware, has not spoken to any parent or child who has been supported by the charity.’

LGBTI activist, Adrian Herrop, said Linehan should be ‘utterly ashamed of himself’. 

Abusing one’s platform and weaponizing one’s influence, in an overt attempt to deny trans and non-binary children a chance to access the help and support they need in order to live successful and happy lives… are the reprehensible actions of a truly morally corrupt individual,’ Herrop told Gay Star News.

Herrop also called out Mumsnet for becoming a ‘breeding ground for the most toxic and vehement forms of transphobia’.

‘By allowing vulnerable and innocent children to be targeted in such a way, Mumsnet have become actively complicit in campaigning that seeks to make the lives of transgender and non-binary children and young people even more challenging and disadvantaged than they already are, causing significant and potentially irreparable harm.’

Gay Star News has reached out to Mermaids for comment.

Author: Shannon Power

The post National lottery to ‘review’ £500,000 donation to trans charity after backlash appeared first on Gay Star News.