- December 9, 2014
Post submitted by Beth Sherouse, former ACLS Public Fellow, HRC Senior Content Manager
Update: HarperCollins reached out to Towleroad in response to its post, stating, "As soon as we learned of Ms. Bennett's petition we looked into the situation and determined that there was a third-party subjective application and misinterpretation of the editorial guidelines. It was not an accurate reflection on the editorial standards of Thomas Nelson, or any other publishing group within HarperCollins. We issued an apology to Ms. Bennett immediately, refunded her money and offered for her to continue the publishing process with WestBow. We are taking the appropriate steps to ensure that this does not happen again. We are sincerely sorry to her and her family for any harm, pain, or embarrassment that this may have caused."
Dawn Bennett, who describes herself as “a mother, a Christian and an aspiring author,” is taking on HarperCollins Christian Publishing -- a division of HarperCollins U.S. -- after she was told her manuscript couldn’t be published unless she condemned her daughter's sexual orientation.
"After writing this book about much of the hurt and harm that my daughter and our family has experienced at the hands of certain biblical interpretation, I could not believe I was reading the words contained in their email," said Bennett, in a release by Faith In America.
Bennett, whose manuscript centers on her story as a Christian mother supporting her lesbian daughter, added, "I haven't even shared it with my daughter yet because I know how painful it is going to be for her to hear something like that coming from such a large and respected publishing company. Honestly, it feels as if we've been rejected and abandoned by our faith community all over again.”
In an email from the publisher’s content evaluation department -- managed by the Thomas Nelson publishing group, a subsidiary of HarperCollins Christian Publishing -- she was told any mention of “homosexual behavior” would have to be “presented as a sin and that the person who committed the act is remorseful and has or currently is taking steps to change their lifestyle.”
These policies are harmful to LGBT youth and adults in a variety of ways – including, but not limited to the suggestion that Christianity and LGBT identity are inherently opposed to each other, as well as the suggestion that LGBT people need to “change.” Such ideas contribute to the problems of LGBT youth homelessness and suicide that stem from familial rejection. “Conversion therapy is indisputably harmful,” said HRC Children Youth and Families Program Director Ellen Kahn, “and should never be condoned directly or indirectly.”
HRC joins Faith in America in standing with Dawn Bennett in her request that HarperCollins Christian Publishing “make clear their commitment to the full human dignity and full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
To learn more about LGBT people and faith, visit: www.hrc.org/faith. For more on the dangers of so-called conversion therapy, read The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.