A North Carolina school system has made the decision to ban an anti-bullying book called Jacob’s New Dress from their curriculum after facing a backlash from conservative parents and educators.
The controversial children’s book was written by Ian Hoffman and his wife Sarah and is based on their own experiences with their 4-year-old son, who would play with his dinosaurs while wearing a dress, the Rebel reports. In the book, Jacob and his classmates are encouraged to put on different clothes and imagine themselves as different characters. Jacob excitedly states that he will be the princess, and puts on a pink dress and crown. Although Jacob originally faces teasing and bullying from his classmates, with the support from his parents and teachers, the other kids eventually start accepting him. The book was chosen as part of the curriculum at Charlotte Mecklenburg schools for Child Abuse Prevention Month, and was meant to be a tool to introduce kindergarten students to the idea of gender fluidity.
According to the Charlotte Observer,Jacob’s New Dress was met with opposition from conservative parents and teachers who believe in traditional family values. The parents felt that the book was encouraging their children to be transgender, an idea that author Sarah Hoffman says is bizarre. Rather, Sarah says, the book was meant to teach kids to accept those who are different than them.
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“The idea that a book can turn someone gay or transgender is bizarre to us. Reading a book can’t turn you gay,” Sarah said. “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.”
Although the children’s book was not meant to encourage transgender behavior, parents were upset that they were not notified that the book was being added to their children’s curriculum, and after a petition and protest, the book was pulled by the school system.
“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools…seeks to indoctrinate students in the school district by normalizing transgender behavior,” a statement from the North Carolina Values Coalition (NCVC) read. “The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic, not to encourage boys to wear dresses…These lessons found in the book, Jacob’s New Dress… are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.”
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Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NCVC, added: “It’s clearly geared to young children. The book is meant as a tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behavior. I think a lot of parents would object to that.”
“It’s not about a little boy wearing a dress. And it’s not about banning books being read,” Pastor Jamie Mitchell said. “I just want the opportunity to know the book is being read… I don’t want to be surprised as a parent.”
After banning the book, the school system chose another children’s book Red: A Crayon’s Story, which is about a crayon that is mistaken as a different color, to replace it.
What do you think about the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system pulling the children’s book? Would you be okay with your child reading Jacob’s New Dress? Leave your comments below.
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