Each year, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read.

At the Vermont College of Fine Arts program for Writing for Children and Young Adults, we also celebrate the freedom to write, without which, there is no true freedom to read.

In recent weeks, we have seen books by our faculty and alumnx banned in the Central York School District in Pennsylvania. The ban disproportionately affected books written by authors of color and was reversed after student protest.

We have also witnessed the exclusion of books with LGBTQIA+ content at a major festival of children’s literature in Nebraska.

As a program, we believe in and foster inclusive artistic and cultural diversity. We defend the principle of freedom of thought, practice, and expression by our students and our faculty. We reject the exclusion of books created by or featuring marginalized human beings, and books based on LGBTQIA+ or any other identity-based content. We reject attempts to restrict access to nonfiction books for political and religious reasons. We also send our solidarity to students and community members protesting book bans.

We do this on behalf of all young readers whose lives have been made narrower and poorer as the result of efforts to limit access to vital stories and important truths, and we call upon supporters of literature everywhere to join us. Art and literature of all kinds are necessary in raising a next generation of readers, thinkers, and humans, and we should all do what we can to create that work and defend it.

This statement has been crafted and is co-signed by the members of the WCYA Faculty Advisory Committee: Faculty members Martha Brockenbrough, Varian Johnson, and A.S. King; Faculty Co-Chairs Liz Garton Scanlon and Jennifer Ziegler; and Program Director Katie Rasmussen.