All hands on deck to hold TPRS Books accountable

Dear WL colleagues,

A few weeks ago, I learned that in 2008 TPRS Books, then Blaine Ray Workshops, had made an $8K donation toward Proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage bill in California. This was shocking news to me and to many who have entered the CI community since that time.

Over the last few weeks, I also learnt that there was serious backlash in 2008 and that Blaine Ray had supposedly promised not to use his company’s funds to make such donations any more.

Meanwhile, countless teachers from the LGBTQ+ community have shared their stories, telling our community how new this news feels, how raw their pain is, and how real their fear is. Some teachers mentioned feeling “betrayed” as they have used their own funds to purchase resources or training from TPRS Books over the years.

Below I am amplifying some of these testimonials, with permission from the authors:

Ben Fisher

Justin Slocum Bailey

Señora Witkowski

There was a “response” from the company last week, but it was very problematic. It never acknowledged the harm caused (“Prop 8 happened”; “people got hurt on both sides”), did not demonstrate any signs of growth, and invited teachers to ask the company questions via a google form that Von Ray, the new owner of TPRS Books and Blaine Ray’s son, would answer in subsequent videos. What? Below I am amplifying Sra Witkowski’s response:

Also amplifying a student’s response (shared with permission):

Today, in solidarity with my LGBTQ+ colleagues AND students, I am sharing this information with as many teachers as possible and on as many platforms as possible, in the hope it will propel you to act with your words, your actions, your wallet.

Unfortunately, TPRS Books also publishes problematic content. Once more, I invite you to run an audit of your classroom library; please make sure you read books before buying class sets or shelving them for your free-choice reading time. Fortunately, you don’t have to start from scratch:

1. If you are on Twitter, follow #wlbookaudit, created by Dorie Conlon Perugini, where teachers post reviews and exchange about language readers.

2. Follow the Language Learner Literature Advisory Board (wearelllab.org) for critical reviews of language readers in Spanish, French, and German.

3. This post provides essential questions and tools to get you started.

4. Join Diversify Your Bookshelf on FB where parents, educators, and librarians post reviews and exchange about books that provide mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (English, Spanish, French #authres and French/Spanish language readers).

Thank you for reading. Thank you for acting on this information. Happy Pride Month.

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