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Metro principal apologizes to parents for author of ‘Batman’ book saying co-creator was gay

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Forsyth County school principal has apologized for a guest speaker making reference to a book character as being gay.

Author Marc Tyler Nobleman was speaking to fifth graders Monday at Sharon Elementary School. He authored the book “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.”

When discussing the book, he described comic book writer Bill Finger’s son as being gay, prompting principal Brian Nelson to write a letter to families.

“This is not subject matter that we were aware that he was including nor content that we have approved for our students,” Nelson wrote. “I apologize that this took place. Action was taken to ensure that this was not included in Mr. Nobleman’s subsequent speeches and further measures will be taken to prevent situations like this in the future.”

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Good afternoon, Sharon 5th grade families,

As trust and transparency are foundational to our partnership, I am reaching out to make you aware of subject matter that was brought up today by a guest author during his speech to our 5th grade students.

Marc Tyler Nobleman is the award-winning author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, a book about Bill Finger’s role in the creation of the comic book character Batman. Mr. Nobleman encouraged our students to find their passions and be resilient, which align with Sharon Elementary’s beliefs and resonated well with our students. As Mr. Nobleman chronicled the tale, he included that Mr. Finger was “gay”. This is not subject matter that we were aware that he was including nor content that we have approved for our students.

I apologize that this took place. Action was taken to ensure that this was not included in Mr. Nobleman’s subsequent speeches and further measures will be taken to prevent situations like this in the future. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. I appreciate your continued support of our school and staff.

—  Brian Nelson

Jennifer Caracciolo, Forsyth County Schools Chief Communications Officer, said the author’s reference to his subject’s sexuality did not meet state curriculum standards for elementary students.

“He brought up a topic that is covered in a state standard in upper grades, it’s not covered in third, fourth and fifth grades,” she said.

But the apology prompted a rebuke from the Forsyth Coalition for Education, calling it “astonishing and appalling.”

“Imagine opening an email and reading the message that your sexual orientation, your family, your child, your very existence as a gay person warrants apology and an assurance that no discussion of your existence will be allowed,” the organization said in a written statement.

Chelsea Bufton, whose daughter attended the presentation, read the apology.

“I don’t think it was necessary,” she said. “But I’m sure it was appreciated for honesty and transparency’s sake, because some people might not like it, some people might be offended,” Bufton said.

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The subject matter of books in schools has been a controversial topic in Forsyth County Schools. The district removed eight books from its school libraries in 2022, but let seven of them return after consideration.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education says that may have created a hostile environment that violated federal laws against race and sex discrimination.

The Forsyth County school district settled the complaint, agreeing to explain the book removal process to students and offer “supportive measures” to students who may have been harmed. Forsyth County will also include questions about the issue in its yearly school climate survey of middle and high school students next year.

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