Authors decline to be honored by Texas Legislature

Author Rick Riordan was born in San Antonio and graduated from the University of Texas. He is noted as the writer of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of books for children and young adults. As such Riordan was invited to the Texas Legislature's celebration of authors event.

Mr. Riordan has declined the invitation.

Just turned down an invite to be honored by TX state legislature as a Texas author. If they want to honor me, they could stop this nonsense.

--Rick Riordan
@camphalfblood

The nonsense to which Mr. Riordan was referring was the honoring of Texas authors while simultaneously dishonoring all transgender people with Senate Bill 6.

Riordan's tweet is one of the first whiffs of potential fallout as the Legislature considers Senate Bill 6. The measure would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) organized the event.

I saw his tweet and was like 'Darn, this is a bummer.’

I don’t want to challenge [Riordan's] belief system. I appreciate that this is his way of making his statement about what has occurred. My only disappointment is we can’t show him how much we appreciate his great work.

--Villalba

Villalba said that the Legislature often recognizes Texans’ contributions to arts and culture. However, even with the controversy over SB 6, Villalba said the two issues shouldn’t be conflated. He said he recognized that bills like SB 6 have people worried about the impact it could have on other industries in Texas. But he added that the Legislature was simply trying to honor the authors. After all, he said, if he chose creative works based on the creator’s politics, he wouldn’t see many movies or read many books.

Author Sarah Bird of Austin was also told the legislature would like to honor her.

Stop Using the Bodies of Texas Women as a Political Battlefield: What I would have said to the Texas State Legislature.

I was told last Friday that the Legislature would like to me honor me as an “esteemed Austin author” and “an ideal role model for girls.”

I answered that I looked forward to the opportunity to address the Legislature when I accepted this honor.

I went on to say that since they had mentioned my small book, “Love Letter to Texas Women," I would especially like to "plead with this august group to stop using the bodies of Texas women as a political battlefield. I would also like to bear witness to the fact that I, absolutely, would never have become an author, a role model, or even the person I was meant to be without access to safe, affordable, women's health care.”

I received a genuinely courteous response saying that they regretted I wouldn’t be attending.

--Sarah Bird on Facebook

On Tuesday, Austin novelist Amanda Eyre Ward decided she had to decline, too. She tweeted to Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, who is organizing the celebration:

I'm sorry to decline your invitation to the #txlege celebration of authors. Sending a copy of my novel, The Same Sky, to you.

Ward's 2015 novel The Same Sky deals with immigration; her story involves a young girl who escapes Honduras with her younger brother and crosses the border into Texas.

I'd love to be a part of a discussion about literature and social issues (like sanctuary cities and unaccompanied minors).

--Ward

The celebration of authors is scheduled for March 8.

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