Georgia Board Of Education Upholds Decision To Terminate Teacher For Reading A Book About Gender Identity In Class

(NationalUSNews.com) — On Thursday, February 22, the Georgia Board of Education upheld the decision to terminate the employment of Katie Rinderle, the Cobb County teacher who was fired in August for violating local laws regarding the teaching of controversial issues.

Rinderle, who taught 5th grade, was reading to the children a book called My Shadow is Purple, a picture book for children 4–7 that introduces the concept of inherent gender identities as well as having a “gender-fluid” or “non-binary” gender identity. The author, Scott Stuart, has written several children’s books in this genre, including My Shadow is Pink and How to Be a Real Man.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the “divisive concepts” and the parental rights bills into law in 2022. He also approved a bill to allow for the removal of obscene materials from schools and one to ensure greater transparency in local school board meetings. Many activists opposed these bills, saying that they “paint a target” on teachers’ backs and arguing that being able to teach controversial issues is integral to the profession. However, Kemp’s vow to keep partisan political agendas out of the classrooms met with approval from a lot of local parents, who feel that families have a right to have some say in their children’s education.

Rinderle’s attorney made the argument that the book was purchased at a Cobb County School Board-approved book fair, although it is unlikely that the board approved all books that were for sale at the event. In the year since she was fired, Rinderle and several other educational professionals have launched a federal lawsuit against the Cobb school district over the “divisive concepts” law, calling it vague in its definition of such terms as divisive, sensitive, and controversial.

A spokesperson for Cobb County School District expressed their gratitude that the State Board of Education had taken the time to make a close review of the case and ultimately found their district had done nothing wrong. While for many, instructing schoolchildren on gender identity, which is not a universally accepted concept, is outside the remit of public schools, activist organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center argue that the lessons are really about inclusiveness and acceptance. However, it seems like it should be possible to teach such concepts in schools without having to use books that violate families’ beliefs and values and their children’s right to a public education free from indoctrination.

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