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NYC schools using tax dollars to host LGBTQ writers promoting books on gender identity
A is for apple, B is for… bi?
That's essentially what the New York City Department of Education is teaching young children.
In 2015, the NYC Department of Education partnered with Lambda Literary, an LGBTQ literary organization, to implement their LGBTQ Writers in School program in the NYC public school system. The program arranges for LGBTQ writers to visit K-12 classrooms to discuss LGBTQ literature and provide “safe spaces for students to talk about great books, queer life, and how to thrive as an LGBTQ person.” Books are chosen by the teachers from a suggested book list, and the students are required to read the books prior to the visit.
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The organizers of this program deny that their goal is to "groom students with made up gender ideologies” or focus the curriculum on "sex and sexual activities," yet the content of the books tell a very different story. Children as young as 3 years old are encouraged to read books that focus on gender identities and sexual orientations. One recommended book, ABC of Gender Identity, lists 26 different genders in alphabetical order. When Aidan Became a Brother, also on the reading list, details how young Aidan realized he was a trans boy and “fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore.”
In an elementary school virtual visit featuring author Ernesto Javier Martinez, students participated in the reading of Martinez’s book, When We Love Someone We Sing to Them. The author described the book as one that depicts what it is like to have your first crush. He then went on to read the book: “What song should we sing for your friend, “ Martinez read. “Teach me a song for a boy who loves boys.”
The books get a little more explicit when it comes to the middle and high school recommendations. The One Who Loves You The Most tells the story of twelve-year-old Gabriela, who is “trying to find their place in the world… and in their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day.” Other books the program recommends are The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, The Passing Playbook, and Out Now: Queer We Go Again!.
In a virtual classroom visit to middle schoolers, author Mark Oshiro read from his book, The Insiders, a story about a boy who hides in the closet, only to find out he is not alone. Oshiro introduced himself to the class as a “trans-racial adoptee” and briefly talked about his homophobic, religious parents. He also spoke about the upcoming Percy Jackson book, which he co-authored. “On a scale of 1-10, how gay is your Percy Jackson book,” one student asked. “Seven hundred,” Oshiro exclaimed.
Although less than half of all 3rd through 8th graders in New York City were proficient in reading in 2019, Melissa Jacobs, Director of Library Services for the NYC DOE, admitted she fought to keep this program alive during the pandemic. In 2021, New York City quadrupled its investment in the LGBTQ Writers in Schools program, increasing funding from $100,000 to $400,000. This taxpayer-funded program has had school-wide effects. In some cases, the concept of talking openly about pronouns has been introduced to the school culture. In other schools, the administrators have agreed to provide students with gender-inclusive bathrooms.
For parents looking to opt their kids out of this program, that is not an option. “It’s actually against DOE policy,” Jude Schoenfeld, LGBTQ Community Coordinator, said in a discussion panel. “You cannot opt your student out of LGBTQ lessons or curriculum.”
The New York City Department of Education did not respond to Libs of TikTok’s request for comment.