Utah School District Suspends Reading Program After Teacher Shares Transgender Tale with 3rd Graders

Call Me Max Book Cover Illustration
Ryecraft Books

Parents whose children attend an elementary school in Utah have pushed back after a teacher read a book to third graders about a biological girl who wants to live as a boy.

The school district decided to suspend a reading program designed to introduce children to “more diverse and inclusive literature,” after a child brought the book Call Me Max and the teacher read it to the class.

Google Books summarizes the plot of the book:

When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets he know the name he wants to be called by ƒ‚‚”ƒ‚‚€ƒ‚‚”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.

The Associated Press (AP) provided details on the battle between advocates for parental rights and schools that indoctrinate young children with ideology that denies that there are only two biological sexes, male and female.

AP reported on the development:

[The book] starts with the teacher taking attendance. “Can you call me Max?” the boy asks, noting that his name on the roll doesn’t match how he sees himself.

As the teacher at Horizon Elementary was reading it, said Murray School District spokesman Doug Perry, students in the class began asking her questions. One was specifically about puberty, Perry noted. The teacher hadn’t read the book before and deflected the questions, for the most part, he said.

The pushback led to the suspension of the school’s “equity book bundle,” which does not include Call me Max but has other books with LGBT themes and yet more focused on “race and racism,” according to AP:

The equity book bundles effort began this fall. Under it, an elementary school is given a copy of the 38 books on the district’s list. The list was curated by Vanessa Jobe, a vice principal at Horizon Elementary where the program started. It includes works by diverse authors, including Ibram Kendi, and on diverse topics, such as what it means to grow up in a Latino family or to live with a disability. It’s meant to encourage educators to incorporate the stories into their lessons.

Perry said no final decision on what is included in the bundles will be made until a review of all is concluded, but that the books are still available in the library.

“Anything in our libraries is fair game for teachers to use right now, including many books that are in the bundle program,” Perry said in the AP report. “In fact, the bundle program is by no means an exhaustive list of books on equity. Our libraries have many others.”

Perry said the district is not backing the teacher’s decision to read the book.

“She just flat out made a mistake,” Perry said. “That book is not appropriate at the grade level it was being shared.”

But the AP said the author of Call Me Max, Kyle Lukoff, a biological woman who “transitioned” to male while attending the all-female Barnard College, disagrees.

“Kyle Lukoff, who wrote Call Me Max, told the Salt Lake Tribune … that the picture book was written for a kindergarten to third grade audience,” AP reported. “And he believes it’s important for young students to see transgender characters and how those individuals are just like anyone else — with their own likes and dislikes and personalities. They’re a part of the community, he said.”

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