A school district in the US has cancelled a talk after a children’s author, who researched the uncredited co-creator of Batman, used the word “gay”.
School officials in Forsyth County, Georgia, cancelled events at two schools by Marc Tyler Nobleman after he used the word “gay” when talking to elementary school students about the history of the comic-book character.
Nobleman’s talks were about his book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, which brings years of his research to life and focuses on the little-known co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger, who had had a gay son.
After pressure on the second day to exclude the word gay from three speeches, he used the it again in front of fifth-graders, after seeing a public apology had been issued to parents by the principal of Sharon Elementary School, Brian Nelson, for his earlier talks.
His remaining speeches for the day were then called off.
The chief communications officer for the school district – just north of Atlanta – Jennifer Caracciolo, said they had a responsibility to ensure “that certain topics are for higher grade levels”.
She added: “He said that he could not stay on topic, so we cancelled the two remaining speeches for the day.”
Nobleman posted an image on Instagram of a note on that was passed to him midway through a talk which read: “Please only share the appropriate parts of the story for our elementary school students.”
In the post, he said he was fighting the district’s action against the use of the word.
‘I did not come in to talk about sexual orientation’
In response to the talks, which he describes as “suspenseful and inspirational”, being cancelled, Nobleman said, “I did not come in to talk about sexual orientation,” Georgia Public Broadcasting reported.
“The fear in that district of the parental backlash is so severe that one three-letter word overrode 57 minutes of other valuable content.”
Finger’s gay son, Fred, died in 1992, leaving researchers to believe there were no heirs, but Nobleman went on to find one through Fred’s marriage to a woman.
The discovery inspired Hulu documentary Batman and Bill, which chronicles Nobleman’s nine-year campaign to get Finger’s name added – alongside that of Bob Kane – to the official Batman credit line, and a TED Talk.
The cancellation of the talks follows Florida’s expansion of the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which bans discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools up to and including the eighth grade.