US children’s author Jay Asher and illustrator David Diaz have been expelled from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) because of allegations about sexual harassment. Asher told Buzzfeed, however, that he left the organisation voluntarily.
In the comments under a School Library Journal article about sexual harassment in children’s publishing, Lin Oliver, executive director of SCBWI, said: “Two men have been reported—David Diaz and Jay Asher. Both have been expelled from the SCBWI and are not welcome as members, faculty or speakers… There is a zero tolerance policy for harassment, there is a preponderance of powerful and respected women on our board, on our staff, and in our membership; there is absolute parity of payment without regard for gender; there are huge staff benefits for women and their dependents; everyone at the SCBWI at the 'director' level is a woman; and we do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.”
In an email to Associated Press, Oliver said both Asher and Diaz “were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct”, adding: “Claims against them were investigated and, as a result, they are no longer members and neither will be appearing at any SCBWI events in the future.”
Asher, however, told Buzzfeed he left of his own accord after anonymous emails accusing him of sexual misconduct were sent to SBCWI. These emails “showed nothing” but he decided to leave after speaking with his agent.
“I understand the predicament they're in with everything going on and to want to protect themselves,” he said. “I love the organization, but they didn't decide to push me out. It was my decision, even though [Oliver] said the email contained nothing that their organization should have anything to do with.”
“The truth is that I had been harassed by these people for close to ten years,” Asher said of the anonymous people who reported him to the SCBWI. “And I just could not deal with it anymore.”
Asher’s novels include Thirteen Reasons Why, which was adapted into a Netflix series and published in the UK by Penguin, and What Light, released here by Macmillan Chidlren’s Books.
Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his work on Smoky Night, written by Eve Bunting.