After being censored by the school's principle, he quit.
Over the past few years, "Don't Say Gay" bills have been introduced across the U.S., sparking widespread controversy about how LGBTQ issues should be addressed in schools. Supporters argue they protect children from inappropriate content by restricting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in educational settings.
Opponents believe these bills marginalize LGBTQ individuals by fostering stigma and potentially infringing on teachers' ability to openly address students' questions or experiences.
Currently, 11 states have banned LGBTQ discussion in public schools, and 5 require parental consent.
Author and comic book expert Marc Tyler Nobleman recently found himself at the center of the controversy, and his simple rationale for using the word “gay” in his school presentations presents an age-appropriate and inclusive way to approach at the issue.
Nobleman has spoken in schools in “about 30 states and almost 20 countries” to inspire children to write and do research. He’s the author of the book “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman” about the fabled superhero’s unsung co-creator.
THE RIGHT WAY TO WRITE: Visiting Author #MarcTylerNobleman, writer of numerous fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, met with students in Grades 3-8 last month. He inspired curiosity, shared his research process, and provided guidance. #TaipeiAmericanSchool— TaipeiAmericanSchool (@TaipeiAmericanSchool) 1681265112
Artist Bob Kane is known as the creator of Batman; however, Bill Finger is believed to have refined the costume and given the character his secret identity as Bruce Wayne, amongst other contributions.
Nobleman notes in his speeches that one of the significant reasons why Finger lives in obscurity is that he died in 1974, and his son, Fred Finger, was gay and died of AIDS complications at 43 in 1992. Without an heir, the movement to get Finger the proper credit lost any hope.
However, the twist in Nobleman’s presentation is when he reveals that through his research, he discovered that Fred Finger had a daughter, Athena. This led to DC Comics officially recognizing her grandfather as Batman’s co-creator in 2015.
“It’s the biggest twist of the story, and it’s usually when I get the most gasps," Nobleman told the Associated Press. “It's just a totally record-scratch moment.”
After a presentation at Sharon Elementary in Forsyth County, Georgia, on Monday, August 21, where he mentioned Fred FInger's orientation, the principal handed Nobleman a note saying, “Please only share the appropriate parts of the story for our elementary students.” So, he removed any reference to Fred Finger’s sexuality over his next two days of presentations.
The school’s principal, Brian Nelson, sent a letter to parents after the initial presentation that read: “This is not subject matter that we were aware that he was including nor content that we have approved for our students,” Nelson wrote. “I apologize that this took place. Action was taken to ensure that this was not included in Mr. Nobleman's subsequent speeches and further measures will be taken to prevent situations like this in the future.”
But after some soul-searching, in a presentation two days later, Nobleman said the word “gay” once again. After discussing the situation with the school, the remaining assemblies were canceled.
Nobleman shared his reasoning for using “gay” on X, formally known as Twitter, and his rationale makes a lot of sense. “And as I've told Jennifer [Caracciolo, the school’s chief communications officer] and her colleagues, mentioning a sexual orientation is NOT the same as discussing sexuality.”
Answering student questions is ALSO not a problem.— Marc Tyler Nobleman (@MarcTNobleman) September 20, 2023
Teaching without parental approval of every line is not a problem.
And as I've told Jennifer and her colleagues, mentioning a sexual orientation is NOT the same as discussing sexuality.#pride #saygay
That’s a huge point missed in much of the debate surrounding LGBTQ visibility in education. There is a big difference between discussing sexual acts—whether heterosexual or otherwise—and someone’s orientation, especially when there’s a good chance that there are children of LGBTQ parents in the audience.
Further, in a world where same-sex marriage and heterosexual marriage are treated equally, why is mentioning one orientation any different than the other?
“If a child asks me if I am married, can I say I have a wife? This is discrimination. It is also extremely insulting and dangerous to our children," Nobleman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We have so much LGBTQ teen suicide because they are not welcome to speak up about their own lives in their own community.”'
Caracciolo likened saying “gay” in front of third graders to talking to kindergartners about one of the greatest atrocities in world history. “It would be almost like if someone was doing a speech to kindergartners and they talked about the Holocaust and the horrors of the Holocaust,” the district’s chief spokeswoman, Jennifer Caracciolo, said, according to The New York Times.
“I asked her not to compare a kind of love to mass murder,” Nobleman wrote in Newsweek.
After his remaining presentations were canceled, Nobleman emailed administrators involved in the controversy and asked them to take three specific actions:
-Apologize to their community for the principal's apology.
-Apologize to their community for censoring an established author who did what he was hired to do: Pump up their kids about reading, writing, and research.
-Challenge the standards that stigmatize any mention of LGBTQ people.