Author Nicholas Sparks in legal battle over attempt to ban school LGBT club
The bestselling romance novelist Nicholas Sparks has been locked in a five-year legal battle over his attempts to ban a LGBT+ club and lesbian student protest at the Christian school he co-founded.
Sparks is a prolific writer whose twenty romance novels, including The Notebook, have all been international bestsellers. Eleven of his novels have been made into multimillion dollar box office films.
In 2006 the author co-founded a small faith-based prep school in New Bern, North Carolina, called the Epiphany School of Global Studies.
Emails obtained by The Daily Beast reveal a bitter battle between Sparks and the school’s former headmaster, Saul Benjamin. In his role as Chairman, Sparks criticised Benjamin for showing “what some perceive as an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted” and advised him not to “rock the boat on this issue.”
In one email, Sparks lists a catalogue of complaints against the headmaster, including “misplaced priorities at the school level (GLBT, diversity, the beauty of other religions, as opposed to academic/curricular/global issues, Christian traditions, etc).”
Benjamin says the emails are indicative of a pattern of harassment, racism, and homophobia from the author, who rejected Benjamin’s attempts to make the school inclusive of all faiths, races and sexualities.
Sparks has denied all claims and refused to comment on The Daily Beast‘s investigation.
“Sparks and members of the Board unapologetically marginalised, bullied, and harassed members of the School community whose religious views and/or identities did not conform to their religiously driven, bigoted preconceptions.”
— Former headmaster Saul Benjamin’s attorneys
The complaints started in 2013 when Benjamin began to hear reports of students asking teachers questions about sexuality.
In response to bullying from fellow students, who allegedly told their classmates they wanted to start a “homo-caust,” the children in question gathered informally to discuss their own identities and sexualities. On hearing of this, Sparks accused Benjamin of secretly authorising a “gay club” against school policy, and insisted that the club be banned.
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