Beloved author Jacqueline Wilson speaks out about ‘cruel and horrible’ LGBTQ+ book bans

Jacqueline Wilson resting her hands on a pile of her books.

British children’s author Jacqueline Wilson has voiced her fears about the UK following in America’s footsteps by banning certain books.

Schools and libraries in the US are currently experiencing a wave of books being removed from shelves, many of which focus on LGBTQ+ characters or topics. 

In the 2021-2022 school year, more than 2,500 books were banned in states across the US, while the number of books challenged doubled in 2022 compared with the previous year.

A report released in September revealed that, on average, more than four in every 10 of the banned books were banished simply for featuring an LGBTQ+ character or discussing queer themes.

Reflecting on book censorship in an interview with The Guardian, Wilson – who is in a same-sex relationship with bookseller Trish Beswick – expressed fears that the trend could cross the Atlantic.

“This is a huge worry,” the The Story of Tracy Beaker author said. “We are not America, but we do follow American trends and this is becoming scary.”

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She revealed that her biggest concern is that books are being banned without discussion, and linked the censorship to so-called cancel culture.

“One of the worst things is there’s no reasoned debate. It’s black or it’s white,” she added. “People are getting cancelled in cruel and horrible ways. I don’t like the idea of anybody being cancelled because we live in a country where we’ve always taken pride in free speech.”

Jacqueline Wilson in a pink, white and purple flowery top and a silver necklace. Her hair is white and cropped short.
Jacqueline Wilson is worried by the book bans in the United Sattes. (Getty/David Levenson)

While any such bans are yet to come to the UK, it seems that rising hostility towards LGBTQ+ books isn’t just concentrated in the US. Earlier this year, library staff in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, were called “pedophile slurs” for having queer books on the shelves, with one person ripping up a copy of This Book is Gay, written by trans author Juno Dawson.

British books, too, are under attack in the US, with Alice Oseman’s queer teen graphic novel series Heartstopper being banned in Florida and Iowa.

In March, Oseman revealed her worry that the UK could be heading in a similar direction.

“Racism, homophobia and transphobia are thriving under the guise of ‘concern for children’, she said. “This is not just a US issue. We’re seeing the exact same ‘concern’ here in the UK.

“Indoctrination happens when you remove access to ideas.”

On the left, the cover of graphic novel Heartstopper volume 1. On the right, Alice Oseman wearing a blue jacket.
Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper is among the books set to be banned by the Iowa school district. (Aliceoseman.com/Attitude Magazine)

Other legendary authors, including Stephen King and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret‘s Judy Blume have spoken out against the “harmful” bans.

“What are you protecting your children from?” Blume questioned in an interview earlier this year. “No child is going to become transgender or gay or lesbian because they read a book. It’s not going to happen.”

Elsewhere in her interview with The Guardian, Wilson spoke warmly about Trish, with whom she has been in a relationship for 21 years.

She explained how the pair met through their mutual love of books. Trish managed a bookshop and held regular author signings.

“I asked her if she’d like to do an event with me,” Wilson revealed. “This was in the days when I was doing lots of signings. Terry Pratchett, who was quite picky, [had] said: ‘Have you done one with Trish? She’s really good’.

“Trish had met me but she’d never asked me to do an event. So, I thought: ‘I’ll be bold and ask her’. And we got on really well together.”

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