No Book Bans
As members of the Theatre for Young Audiences community, we make works about, with, and for young people – and we must actively oppose any effort to ban that art from young people.
We hold a unique responsibility to our audience members and young artists because we are often their first exposure to live theatre. We know from experience the sparks of joy, creativity, and empowerment that are kindled when we see ourselves authentically reflected on stage.
To pass that power and joy on to the next generation, we make art that both reflects children’s own experiences and art that engages them with experiences they hadn’t previously considered. And sometimes, we make art that helps children imagine paths and worlds they never have before, art that inspires them to take charge of the creation of such new possibilities.
For the sake of young people and the new possibilities they create for our future, we cannot stand by as bans on books spread across the country. Frequently, the books being targeted were created by historically marginalized and oppressed people – sending a message that these stories are unworthy of being included in art AND that their very existence, and thus the existence of the people who tell them, is wrong. Erasing historically marginalized and oppressed people from being seen is an act of violence.
We believe that making space for authentic, diverse stories sends a message of love, whether on the stage or the bookshelf.
We support children’s access to work that rejoices at the exploration and understanding of one’s unique identity – that opens readers’ eyes to a place in a bigger world – that celebrates the joy of all people by including Black joy, the joy of Indigenous people and people of color, the joy of LGBTQIA+ people, Latine joy and Asian joy, Muslim joy and Jewish joy, disabled joy, and immigrant joy. We support children’s access to art that reminds them of their own power.
Some of these stories deal with discrimination and racism – and that may make audience members feel discomfort at the actions of others, their own actions, or the state of the world. However, the acts of creating and experiencing art – as a writer, artist, reader, or audience member – provide a framework for bravely exploring new ideas and processing the discomfort inherent in challenge and growth.
It is in this way that art serves its most noble function: to open our eyes and hearts to other people, other cultures, other perspectives, and to our own identities - and in doing so, lessen the distance between human beings. Inclusive art invites us to be better at caring for each other.
We stand against the banning of art and invite you to join us in opposing these bans. We offer some ideas for how you can do so:
- Sign on to this statement, share it with your networks, or create and share your own version
- Consider your season selection; are members of all of your communities represented in your season? Do the people and stories targeted by book bans have places in your season? Bans target people and their stories; you don’t have to adapt a book that has been targeted by a ban to tell a story by and about people who are being targeted by those bans.
- Consider representation in traditional stories. Can you keep stories from the canon and update them in partnership with the communities you serve, so that everyone is reflected?
- Consider your community; are people from historically marginalized communities welcomed and celebrated in your spaces as leaders, artists, staff, audience members and students?
- Does your community have the tools they need to advocate to their elected officials? Can you support their advocacy with templates, contact information, voting rights information, and information about legislation being drafted and voted on that impacts your community?
- Connect your community with the local non-profits and mutual aid groups that are directly providing aid for people from marginalized backgrounds to care for their physical and mental health, safety, comfort, access to human rights, and advocacy needs.
Nicole Amri, Artist, Teaching Artist & Co-Executive Director
G. Armando Silva, Dancer, artist, educator
Sandra Axelrad-Boccara, Teaching Artist, Actor, Director, Choreographer, Dancer
Glenn Bailey, Jr.
Helayna Barber, Teaching Artist: Brave Little Company
Giana Blazquez Bultman, Director, Choreographer, Teaching Artist
Brendan Bourque-Sheil, Teaching Artist
Cody R. Braudt, Director
Danielle Bunch, Theatre Educator
Brittny Bush, Actor, Teaching Artist, Theater collaborator, audience member
Rameen Chaharbaghi, music educator
Jade Chang, Freelance Designer and Artist
Jeff Church, Producing Artistic Director
Rutherford Cravens, Actor/Director
Austin Davis Ruiz, LGBTQ+ Activist
Rachel H. Dickson, Teaching Artist, Parent, Arts Administrator, audience member
Jody Drezner Alperin, Teaching Artist, Director, Playwright, Parent, audience member
Vicky Finney Crouch, Actor, Teaching Artist, Director, Playwright
Teresa A. Fisher
Tim Fried-Fiori, Arts Professional
Sean Fitzpatrick, PhD, LPC
Alexander P. Garza
Rebecca Greene Udden, Artistic Director, Main Street Theater
Krishnaveni Gundu, Educator & audience member
Jeremy D Hawkins
Lupe Hernandez, Audience Member / Supporter to the Arts
Beverly Houck, Theater Producer/ Director
Lekei Jacobs, Artist
Jaci Jeane, Actor/Director
Arthur M. Jolly, Playwright
Marjorie Joseph, Executive Director HCAH
Jess Kaufman, youth theater artist, producer, and educator
Alicia Lark Fuss, Theatre Artist & Educator
Kristy Lozano, Teaching Artist
Rachel Mackenzie Moran, Teaching Artist
Crystal Elise Mata, Teaching Artist
Patrick McColery, Actor, Director, Teaching Artist
John P. McEneny, Artistic Director, Piper Theatre Productions / Public School Teacher William Alexander Middle School 51 (D15)
Anne Meek Montgomery, Teaching Artist
Kassie Misiewicz, Artistic Director & Founder, Trike Theatre
Christine Phares, Ed.D., Program Director, Young Audiences of Houston
Indigo Rael, Teaching Artist
Mara Richards Bim
Maried Rivera Nieves
Keith Randolph Smith, Actor, Writer
Troy Scheid, Director and Teaching Artist
Fran Sillau, Artistic Associate
Gricelda Silva, Glass Half Full Theatre
P. S. Shuller, Teaching Artist
Susanna Stahlmann, Actor, Writer, Teaching Artist
Michael E. Stewart
Chris Tennison, Associate Artistic Director, Trike Theatre
Rachel Elizabeth Thuermer
Wendy vanden Heuvel, Piece by Piece Productions
Molly Wetzel, Actor and teaching artist
James P. Walsh, Actor/Technical Director
Kip Wilson, Author
Amber- Nicole Wolfe
Y York, Playwright
Sherree Drezner, NC, Clinical Social Worker
Suzan L. Zeder: President Board of Trustees, Childrens Theatre Foundation of America
Marie Kiely, mom of 2 artistic kiddos.
Dr. Patricia DiBenedetto Snyder
Catherine Thomas, Actor, Theatre Educator, Teaching Artist, Producer, and Director
Dr. Jo Beth Gonzalez, Theatre Teacher
Moses Goldberg, Theatre Artist
Deborah Hope, Actor and Educator
Gayle Sergel Brown
Valerie Work, playwright/musical theater writer
Kori Radloff, Omaha Theater Company at The Rose Theater
Bernardo Solano, Chair, Dept. of Theatre & New Dance, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Corisa R Saitta
Beam Center, NY
Brave Little Company, TX
Center for the Healing of Racism, TX
The Coterie Theatre, MO
Cry Havoc Theater Company, TX
Dare To Dream Theatre, WI
Dominican Sisters of Houston, TX
Express Children's Theatre, TX
Filament Theatre (Chicago, IL)
Fine Arts Forward, TX
Flying Leap Productions, NY
Friends, Allies, and Mentors of the LGBTQ+ Community (FAM)
Glass Half Full Theatre, TX
Houston Coalition Against Hate, TX
Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus, TX
The Jung Center, TX
Off The Page, NY
Pink Umbrella Theater Company, WI
Piper Theatre Productions, NY
SAY Sí (TX)
Texas Jail Project, TX
Trike Theatre, AR
Childrens Theatre Foundation of America