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Parents at Horizon Elementary School in Murray, Utah, were upset last month when a third-grade teacher read Call Me Max. Transgender author Kyle Lukoff’s book is about a transgender boy who teaches his classmates and teachers about his identity.
The book was brought to class by a student who asked the teacher to read it aloud. Some students asked questions, mostly about puberty. When students told their parents about the book’s subject, some parents complained to the district that the book was shared without their permission.
In response, the district suspended its Diversity Equity Council and a council-operated Equity Books program. Both are currently under review.
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The council was established in 2019 in response to complaints from district officials about justice and ill-treatment. Launched in the fall by the deputy director of Horizon, the book packs are a collection of 38 titles that contain books by different authors and cover different topics. The bundles are distributed to elementary schools in the district. While some books on the list introduce the LGBTQ community or deal with disability, the vast majority deal with topics such as race and racism.
Call Me Max is not included in the bundles.
The district has announced that it will be reviewing all of the titles on the list to see if they are similar in content to Call Me Max or whether they may raise other concerns.
“[The teacher] It just made a mistake, ”district spokesman Doug Perry told the Salk Lake Tribune. “This book is not appropriate for the grade in which it was shared.”
The book publisher lists the book’s grade level as 2 through 4, and the author responded to the district’s decision by reiterating that the book was written for that age group.
“It’s only a problem when you think it’s wrong to be transgender,” Lukoff told the Salt Lake Tribune. “And that’s not it. The parents then have to work through that. “
Many of the books in the bundled programs, as well as others, remain available in district libraries and classrooms during the review. Perry said he does not expect the Equity Council or the bundles to be fully dissolved. However, book bundles are no longer being distributed, and the district has announced that it will discuss with teachers what content is appropriate for students.
The page on the district website that explains the book package program is currently inaccessible.
The time to make this decision to review these book packages is in Black History Month. It follows a school in North Ogden, Utah, which allows students to opt out of the Black History Month curriculum. When a decision will be made about the future of the program and access to the books remains unclear.