DEWITT, Mich. (WLNS) — A former teacher from Mid-Michigan is remaining defiant after a video of her highlighting banned books went viral leading to threats.
Online creator Elizabeth Hatline is back to posting on Instagram after a video she made last month was shared and reposted by the right-wing social media account “Libs of TikTok” this week. In the video, she featured 19 picture books that were banned last year in different places around the country. Many of them touched on LGBTQ+ topics and diversity.
The “Libs of TikTok” post claimed she was a DeWitt Public Schools teacher, but Hatline has not been a part of the district since 2021. After the video was reposted, DeWitt Public Schools made an announcement that it was shutting down its social media profiles because of inappropriate tagging, comments, and threats from people reacting to the video.
Hatline says following the 2020 George Floyd protest, she wanted to create a community to share children’s book recommendations that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I originally started the Facebook group so that parents and educators and caregivers could have a safe and welcoming environment to get support and help others with books and DEI efforts in books,” she said in a phone interview.
That effort soon turned into her Instagram account called “raisingreaderstobecomeleaders” which now has more than 16,000 followers.
Hatline says it has been a difficult week of facing online backlash for her posts but adds that there has also been an outpouring of support.
“I mean, I can’t even keep up because there are some many messages of just people who feel the same as me,” Hatline said.
She says her message is that it is important to share the stories kids are missing out on in places where these books are barred.
“I fully believe that every single parent should decide what books are best for their children, but you don’t get to decide what’s best for other people’s children everyone should have that choice,” she said.
Hatline said she will continue to do her advocacy work with other online creators in hopes of continuing an “inclusive, safe environment.”
WLNS reached out to the social media account “Libs of TikTok” on Wednesday via email. In response, the account asked if the desire was for an interview or a statement. WLNS responded that either was workable, but the social media group failed to respond any further. A follow-up email on Thursday with questions was not returned.