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It’s not just books that are being targeted by conservative white supremacist groups in the United States. They’re teachers too, and for Glen Ellyn, Ill., Third grader Lauren Crowe, who shares the inclusive resources she spends on TikTok, has her on administrative leave of absence from the backlash.
Twenty-four-year-old Crowe runs the now private TikTok account @classroomyogi and at the end of May she posted a video showing the queer and activist books she has in her classroom. These included Kid Activists, It Feels Good To Be Yourself, and Queer Heroes, and it wasn’t the first or last of their videos to feature inclusive books.
A conservative Twitter account found Crowe’s videos and compiled them in early September.
Once the videos were shared on Twitter, the account didox the teacher by sharing her personal account and where she was teacher. The tweet went a long way and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School as well as Glen Ellyns District 41 were inundated with calls and emails asking them to be removed from the classroom. Many flooded the school’s Facebook page and requested an investigation from the teacher.
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“District 41 became aware of social media posts by an employee that appeared overnight,” said the district in a statement to the parents. “The district is aware of these posts and is in the middle of an investigation in collaboration with our legal advisor,” wrote Dr. Melissa Kaczhowski, a headmistress of the school.
Crowe’s social media, used in her spare time, does not violate any law.
The groups targeting the teacher call their work “indoctrination,” and others have commented on social media about how teachers should be monitored and dismissed if they dared to teach.
“If I ever found out that my third grader was exposed to gay and transgender issues in school, the shit would be real,” a YouTube comment said. “Cameras in schools. Policemen have them. Teachers should, too, ”says another.
Another Twitter user commented on the threaded videos: “Usually 3rd grade is 8 or 9 years old. Why should sexuality be important for children so young? History, math, writing should be their main focus in school, not sexual preferences and pride, ”to which another responded with the currently conservative favorite phrase“ grooming ”.
Not all were angry with Crowe’s social media posts or their work in offering books that showcase Black Lives Matter, youth activism, or LGBTQ + life. Mother Jennifer Huard said that making these books available to third graders also shows what the world really is like.
“Representation counts. These kids need to see their lives represented in the classroom, too, ”she told NBC. Huard noted that many of those who commented on the district’s Facebook page and other social media were not parents at the school, not even around.
Helen Bosacki, another from Glen Ellyn, commented on the district’s Facebook page that she was surprised that these books weren’t already standard in the curriculum.
“All libraries have a tendency to not have enough diverse material,” said Bosacki. “This also includes different family structures.”
Other parents in the district suggested finding information about those who disapproved of Crowe, her job, and her students who harmed her, and report it to their respective employers.
“I’m happy to hear from the company you work for. That’s unacceptable, ”wrote one commentator. “I think a lot of us know who these people could be and where they work,” said another.
Sexuality and identity are lifelong processes, and third grade kids are at a time when they are extremely curious. Adding materials to the curriculum to teach young learners in all aspects of human life makes education not only important, but also a lifelong, engaging process.
In Illinois, the state passed a new comprehensive sex education plan that allows for a more inclusive curriculum and discussion. This law, welcomed by many, was a catalyst for many to oppose books in schools and libraries. Libraries in the same area as Glen Ellyn – the Chicago suburbs – were harassed and challenged earlier this year for other human sexualities.
There are few details about Crowe’s vacation from the classroom and whether it is voluntary. But the layoff, regardless of the schedule, leaves a significant void in the educational environment of the school and the county in general, as actions like this discourage other educators from sharing materials that focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion.
The Glen Ellyn School Board meets on September 20th at 6:30 p.m. When you are on site, show your support for Crowe and the materials she provides for her students. The meeting will take place at Hadley Junior High School, 240 Hawthorne Boulevard.
If you are absent or unable to attend the meeting, the contact information for the school board is as follows: Robert Bruno – [email protected]; Jason Loebach – [email protected]; Jessica Buttimer – [email protected]; Edward “Ted” Estes – [email protected]; Julie Hill – [email protected]; Chris Martelli – [email protected]; and Tayyaba Syed – [email protected]. Send an email showing your support for what Crowe and colleagues are doing in the classroom and beyond like they do. Social media posts like yours help other teachers find resources and incorporate them into the classroom, and provide support as to why this work is important.
Last but not least, you can support Lauren Crowe directly through this fundraiser. You can buy a shirt or just donate money to help this young teacher.