Wheaton School Revokes Author Invitation -- Over Homophobia, She Says

Bernie Tafoya
November 07, 2019 - 7:12 pm

Detail of the cover of "Kid Activists" by Robin Stevenson (Quirk Books/Amazon)


(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Canadian author believes the cancellation of her talk to a Wheaton school was tied to homophobia. The district says something different.

Robin Stevenson says her book, “Kid Activists,” is about 16 activists and their lives as children. They include Martin Luther King Jr, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk. She said the book is aimed at ages 8-12 and on the cover includes drawings of the subjects, including Milk, who is holding a rainbow flag.

Stevenson was to talk Oct. 2 to students at Longfellow Elementary in Wheaton District 200. She said the school’s vice principal contacted her the day before the presentation and asked about the content.

The author said she responded by saying, in part, she would discuss “how the book was about people who saw and experienced injustice.”

She later got an email from her publisher saying the school district had cancelled the talk, Stevenson said.

"My impression is that it was a complaint from a parent that was rooted in homophobia and that the school district legitimized that concern,” she said.

She said she worries this could make the school less tolerant and safe for LGBTQ staff and students. Stevenson has issued an open letter to the school district.

Community Unit School District 200 says Stevenson’s appearance was cancelled because parents were not given enough time to decide whether their children should hear the talk. The district expressed regret about the late notice Stevenson was given and left open the possibility of rescheduling an appearance.

“In District 200, we care deeply for all students. On a daily basis, our staff ensures we are building and sustaining a culture that supports all students,” the district said in a statement to WBBM Newsradio.