The Young V&A is to select alternative LGBTQ+ material for display after being criticised for removing two books from sale in its shop and a poster from its Design Gallery.
The two books, Seeing Gender and Here and Queer, are illustrated publications exploring gender and sexuality. According to the V&A, the books were removed because they were not suitable for the museum’s 0-14 core age group.
The poster, which was reportedly taken down after installation, was produced by the LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall and read “Some People are Trans: Get Over It”.
The items were taken off display before the East London museum’s reopening on 1 July. A V&A spokesperson said at the time that “having reflected on the interpretation, the senior team felt more consultation was necessary with young people and teachers on how to present these topics, to ensure their perspectives were more fulsomely represented”.
The decision led to a row over censorship at the museum, with representatives from the PCS Union, Prospect and the institution’s LGBTQ+ working group meeting with V&A director Tristram Hunt to discuss their concerns.
The removal of the material was compared to the censorship of LGBTQ+ lives under Section 28.
Rowan Ellis, the author of Here and Queer, said she had been “stunned” to learn of the removal of her book, which is aimed at teenage girls. She also questioned why the trans Stonewall poster was taken down after installation while a similar poster on gay rights was left in place.
A V&A spokeswoman told Museums Journal that the institution’s plan “was always to source an alternative work for the display, recognising the importance of Young V&A being an inclusive space”.
The museum has shortlisted a number of replacement books that are designed for its core age range.
In a statement this week, the institution said it had listened to feedback and was working to address the concerns raised.
It said: “The V&A unequivocally stands with the trans community – trans rights are human rights – and we want all our museums to be welcoming and inclusive spaces for everyone.
“We now have a range of age-appropriate LGBTQ+ titles ready to be supplied to the Young V&A shop in the coming weeks, and have also identified replacement objects for the Young V&A Design Gallery that highlight trans themes, as planned, which we will soon be installing.
“After summer, our plan is to work closely with educators, specialist organisations, community partners, and our LGBTQ+ network to consider how we present trans and non-binary content that centre children’s experience in Young V&A’s galleries. This is an increasingly important issue for many young people, and we understand our responsibility to curate it with care.”