A teacher in the United States is struggling to keep her job after reading an Australian children’s picture book to her class.
Katie Rendell says she bought My shade is purple at a textbook fair and then put it on the list of options her students could choose to read again in March.
He chose a fifth-grade class—usually 10 or 11-year-olds—at Due West Elementary in Georgia My shade is purplewhich is centered around a non-binary a personality.
It was written and illustrated by Melbourne bestselling children’s author Scott Stewart and was published last year.
“The students just shared the book with me and then we discussed the message they were getting,” Ms. Rendell said in a video for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“That’s what our conversation really focused on is the power of not only embracing your unique differences and abilities but then valuing and learning from those differences and abilities in others.”
Two days later, her principal asked to see the book, which she said was prompted by a complaint from a parent.
According to local media, Ms. Rendell has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation and now faces severance, and a public contract termination hearing is scheduled for August.
FOX 5 Atlanta reported that Ms. Rinderle’s attorney Craig Goodmark said the Cobb County school district alleges that Ms. Rinderle violated Georgia’s Divisive Concepts Act passed in 2022.
The law was introduced to prevent teachers from discussing certain topics when teaching about race or history.
In a statement to local media, the school district said: “Without elaborating on the details of the investigation with staff, the district is confident that this action is appropriate given the teacher’s overall conduct and history. However, since this matter is ongoing, no further comment is available. The county is committed to the strict application of all council policies and the law.”
In Australia, the author of the book was disgusted by the ordeal.
“The teacher is fighting termination, but this whole thing shows how much more the school system in the US is interested in doing politics than it is in educating children,” Mr. Stewart said in a video posted to social media. “It’s gross. It’s disgusting.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, during the investigation, words such as “pornography” and “inappropriate subjects” were repeated.
“To be very clear – there is nothing sexual or pornographic about this book. It is an acceptance and inclusion book,” Mr. Stewart wrote in his video caption. “We need to support teachers, not denigrate them.”
He also pointed out that the teacher bought the book from the book fair in her school.