Kody Keplinger's young-adult book, Run, has a queer character in it. In its review, the trade publication Voices of Youth Advocates (Voya) suggested this was inappropriate for younger readers: “The story contains many references to Bo being bisexual and an abundance of bad language, so it is recommended for mature junior and senior high readers.”
Asked why it thought a bisexual character made it inappropriate for young readers, Voya's editors went defensive in record time:
Since this is Bi Visibiliy Week, I understand your need to find and destroy your enemies in a public forum, however, Voya magazine and I are not your enemies."
The complaint referred to was privately emailed; it was Voya's decision to publish it, without permission, along with this response. In another response, it doubled down on the notion that sexuality is inherently inappropriate for exposure to younger readers:
Sexuality (the act or the discussion or the mention, in some cases) and language generally reserved for adults are two issues that are legitimate concerns when addressing the maturity of a teen reader. ... This does not have anything to with with whether the sexuality was homo, hetero, bit or other – sexuality is sexuality. It just happened to be that the sexuality in this particular title (Why does that upset you?)
(Bonus points were not awarded for the parenthetical suggestion of emotional fragility.)
When scrutinized, Voya's archives were found to have covered many books "CHOCK-A-BLOCK with heterosexual sex". Only queer moments were subject to such "legitimate concerns."
To readers (and many authors) this wasn't just the usual media practice of hiding queerness from the young while slyly showering them with heterosexual titillation. Read the rest