A Northwestern school system reevaluates its approach to equity.
As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, a third-grader recently brought a book from home and asked the teacher to read it aloud.
Call Me Max concerns a female identifying as a boy.
Here’s Amazon’s provided story summary:
When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by — a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.
At Horizon Elementary, the teacher obliged.
Word got out to parents, some of whom gave a less enthusiastic review than above.
The book did indeed engage the class; The Daily Wire explains:
Murray School District spokesman Doug Perry said that as the teacher read the book, students began to ask questions. Perry added that one question was specifically about puberty. He also said that the teacher had not read the book prior to the student bringing it in, and for the most part, deflected the questions.
As stated by the Tribune, “a few families…called the (school) district, angry that the book was shared with their kids without permission.”
It wasn’t the first time something of the sort had occurred:
In 2012, a picture book about a lesbian couple raising a child was removed from the shelves of elementary school libraries in Davis County after a group of parents there raised objections.
The Murray school system’s responded a bit more radically: It’s reviewing all the entries in its “equity book bundles.”
To be clear, Call Me Max isn’t a part of the program.
Nonetheless, the bundles might offer something similar.
[W]hile it includes the LGBTQ community, the equity book program overall is more focused on addressing race and racism and introducing students to more authors of color. And the decision to suspend it falls at the start of Black History Month.
Spokesperson Doug lamented the timing:
“That is purely coincidental. We certainly honor and revere Black History Month as an important part of our education.”
There’s been other backlash in the area, as well:
The move…comes after a separate Montessori school in North Ogden was allowing parents to “opt out” of the curriculum around Black History Month, but later reversed that decision after facing community pushback.
Perry said that many books by Black authors and about people of color will still be available for teachers and kids to read, including “Of Thee I Sing” by former President Barack Obama, as well as picture books about Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass.
Some of those also appear on the equity book bundle lists and will remain on the shelves even with the program temporarily suspended, Perry added. Nothing will be pulled until the review is completed.
Doug assured everyone:
“Anything in our libraries is fair game for teachers to use right now, including many books that are in the bundle program. In fact, the bundle program is by no means an exhaustive list of books on equity. Our libraries have many others.”
With the equity plan, the school’s certainly pushing for progress — books include work by antiracism innovator Ibram X. Kendi.
Received Ibram X. Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby” today. Never too young… pic.twitter.com/DBbkLrUNd0
— Linnea Bates (@NeaBat) July 17, 2020
Per the program, fifth graders will get This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work.
From its pages:
You will notice I have chosen to use “folx” instead of “folks.” Because it is a gender neutral term created by activist communities, and I would like to honor everyone who reads this book.
We’ll capitalize Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color, and Folx of the Global Majority because I believe it is important to center the voices and lives of those who have been marginalized, silenced, and purposefully left out of our history for so long.”
Because race and our social identities are constructed by people, we are still often caught in the trap of labeling ourselves in ways that center whiteness and those in the dominant culture.
I do want to be clear: it is not the job of Folx of the Global Majority to educate white people on their oppression. It is the job of white people to listen, learn, and grow.
In sixth grade, kiddos will come upon Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History.
For 9-year-olds, the district appears interested in muting the colors of the rainbow.
No matter; in three more years, it seems, they’ll be bright-shining
Call Me Max author Kyle told the Tribune the backlash is bananas:
“I find in my experience that adults think [the term transgender] unlocks a lot of confusion in children when it really doesn’t. … It’s only a problem if you think that being transgender is itself wrong. And it’s not. That’s something the parent then has to work through. I try to write books about trans kids that don’t reinforce misogyny and gender binaries or the concept that your body or being trans is a problem.”
See more pieces from me:
Find all my RedState work here.
Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below.