A children's book with transgender themes has been pulled from an anti-bullying program in North Carolina after outrage from state Republican lawmakers.
The book Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman was written to promote support and understanding for gender nonconforming kids. It was chosen as part of a lesson plan for 1st graders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district intended to teach young students about how to tackle bullying and harassment. The picture book tells the story of a young boy who is teased by his classmates for wanting to dress like a girl.
The choice to include Jacob's New Dress upset certain teachers in the school district, however. The teacher's concerns eventually found their way to the school's government liaison, a Republican named Charles Jeter, who was subsequently asked by colleagues to press the school district about their issues with the teaching of the book. Shortly after, the district officials announced they had removed the book from the plan. The book was replaced with Red: A Crayon’s Story, a story about a red crayon who considers himself to be blue.
Jeter told the Charlotte Observer he supports LGBT students but called the move an "unforced error." The complaints about the book are indicative of the ongoing unease with transgender issues in North Carolina. The controversy follows the state's passing of the HB2 "bathhroom" bill that removed certain protections for gay and transgender people. The school is also preparing a policy to “intentionally incorporate diversity throughout the curriculum," which will include materials on gender and sexual identity. For several months, a group called the Values Coalition has been protesting this shift in the curriculum, raising the alarm about the school district's abandonment of "family values" and use of "indoctrinating" materials.
NCAC is writing a letter to the school district strongly objecting to the district's decision to pull the book from the lesson plan. It will highlight the difference between ensuring a diverse range of perspectives and identities are refleced in course materials and "indoctrinating" students. It will also condemn the Republican lawmakers' decision to use their political power to meddle in school curricula.
Stay tuned for updates.