The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators said Monday that Asher had violated the society’s harassment code, but didn’t provide further details. The ban occurred last year but just came to light. Illustrator David Diaz was also banned by the organization.
“Both Jay Asher and David Diaz were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment,” said Lin Oliver, the organization’s executive director, in an email to the Associated Press. “Claims against them were investigated and, as a result, they are no longer members and neither will be appearing at any SCBWI events in the future.”
Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why became a cultural phenomenon among tweens and teens last year when it was adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. The series examines the relationship between high school student Clay Jensen and friend Hannah Baker, the latter a suicide after some demoralizing school encounters. Cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her death details the thirteen reasons for ending her life.
The series sparked discussion between schools, parents and children over bullying and suicide.
Asher is also known for the novel The Future of Us, while Diaz won the prestigious Caldecott medal for illustration for his 1994 book Smoky Night, one of dozens of prominent books he’s worked on.
Asher told BuzzFeed News today that he left the organization voluntarily and had been “thrown under the bus” by the allegations. “It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth,” he said. “I feel very conflicted about it just because of what’s going on in the culture and who’s supposed to be believed and who’s not.”
The news has already had some career fallout for Asher. The Oklahoma Writers’ Federation said today that Asher would not be giving a scheduled keynote address at its conference in May.