A North Carolina school district has pulled a book called Jacob’s New Dress from their Grade 1 curriculum after receiving complaints that it taught children to be transgender.
The children’s book is about a boy named Jacob who loves to play dress-up. He wants to wear a dress to school, but the other kids tease him for wearing “girl clothes.”
While the anti-bullying book is meant to teach acceptance of those who don’t conform to traditional gender roles, many teachers and lawmakers disagreed with its message.
“The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic, not to encourage boys to wear dresses,” said Tami Fitzgerald, the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, a group that supports “pro-family positions.”
“These lessons found in the Jacob’s New Dress and My Princess Boy and other transgender curriculum are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.”
Additionally, Fitzgerald argued that “the book is meant as a tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behaviour. I think a lot of parents would object to that.”
Insert major eye-roll here.
According to The New York Times, the book was “sprung” on teachers just days before it was supposed to be taught to students. Not only did the book spark a number of complaints, but it also spurred petitions and protests.
As a result, the book has been banned from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), which is one of the largest public school districts in North Carolina, The Washington Post reports. Jacob’s New Dress has now been replaced with a book about a crayon in the curriculum. (Sigh. Why can't they have both books?)
In a statement, Superintendent Ann Blakeney Clark said: “CMS is committed to safe school environments where all students are empowered with the tools they need to prevent, detect and report harassment and bullying. The initial first-grade book selection, which focuses on valuing uniqueness and difference, has been replaced due to some concerns about the book.”
Since the book was banned, its authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman have spoken out about how ridiculous the situation is.
“The idea that a book can turn someone gay or transgender is bizarre to us. Reading a book can’t turn you gay,” Sarah told the Charlotte Observer. “If a white kid reads a book about Martin Luther King Jr., will they become black? This book is about a little boy who wears a dress, something outside of traditional gender roles, much like the idea of a girl wearing pants was 100 years ago. It’s about following your heart.”
The Hoffmans’ book is an important one not just because it breaks gender roles, but because it teaches kids about accepting those who are different from them.
On Twitter, many shared their disappointment and disbelief over the ban.
— strange & unusual (@GojyoChan) March 27, 2017
— b.t. gottfred❤🌈🌏 (@btgottfred) March 28, 2017
@AlbertWhitman Banned in North Carolina, how sad.
— Eric (@ziljinplaygames) March 25, 2017