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'Queer kids deserve books with happy endings,' says Indianapolis writer

Saundra Mitchell's stories are now be found on shelves across the world - except in Texas, she said.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis native Saundra Mitchell found her passion for reading and writing when she was in kindergarten.

"Writing is genuinely magic to me," said Mitchell. 

Growing up, she never saw herself in the books she read, so as an adult, she decided to write her own.

"I wanted to write stories about queer characters doing stuff like all the other kids. They had books where they go to space and they're the archaeologist," said Mitchell. 

She said queer kids deserve to have books with happy endings that reflect them and their experiences in a positive light.

"When you don't find stories that reflect who you are, you do feel other, you do feel minimized, and it's magnified when you have queer kids of color," said Mitchell.

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Now you can find her books on shelves across the world - except in Texas.

"I am very banned in Texas," Mitchell said.

Credit: WTHR

Mitchell is one of the hundreds of queer authors banned from Texas school libraries after Gov. Greg Abbott called them pornography. 

Mitchell said it's just not true.

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"There's a kiss in this book. They're treating it like pornography. Really, what they're doing is criminalizing our orientation," said Mitchell.

She was shocked and heartbroken when she found out they erased all those important voices.

"It's harmful to be told your body is illegal, your desires are illegal. That there's something wrong with the way you are. How do these kids end up not feeling damaged?" Mitchell said. 

Jayne Walters with the West Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library said it's a privilege to have these books on their shelves, because the same thing almost happened here in Indiana. That's why they strive to highlight LGBTQ authors year round.

"It's super important, especially now when youth are being attacked by the government for trying to be themselves, to play sports with their friends and being turned into bogeymen," said Mitchell.

Although Mitchell might still be banned in Texas, she plans to continue to use her work to transport readers to a more accepting place.

"We have come so far in the last 30 years, but we have so much farther to go right now," she said.

Mitchell suggests anyone who's worried about what's inside her books should read them. 

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