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Yup. You read that right. According to a new law in the UK, all children's book authors who visit schools to do readings or work with students will have to submit their names to a national database that aims to protect children from pedophiles. The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), which goes into effect on October 12, will force all adults who intend to visit and interact with school children to register and they'll have to pay a $105 fee for the privilege of doing so.
According to CarnalNation.com, many famous children's book authors, including Phillip Pullman of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, and Quentin Blake, are boycotting school visits as a result of the new law. Pullman says, "This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist." Anne Fine, who is the Children's Laureate for the UK, says:
"When it [the VBS] becomes essential, I shall continue to work only in foreign schools, where sanity prevails. The whole idea of vetting an adult who visits many schools, but each only for a day, and then always in the presence of other adults, is deeply offensive. Our children will become further impoverished by this tiresome and ill-considered scheme, and yet another gulf will be created between young people and the rest of society."
No word on whether or not J.K. Rowling plans to submit to the VBS but we certainly hope not. We're all for protecting kids but we're also for common sense, something the British government apparently had in short supply when they passed the policy.
On a lighter note, head over to Out.com to see a slideshow of Daniel Radcliffe through the ages and then take our "Which Gay Harry Potter Character Are You?" quiz while you're there.