A teacher in a suburb of Atlanta had her employment terminated after reading her 5th-grade class a book on gender roles and identity, the New York Times reported on August 18.
In the book 33-year-old Katherine Rinderle read to her class at Due West Elementary School, a child described their shadow as the color purple as opposed to pink for a girl and blue for a boy. The book is said to have been centered around non-binary identities.
“The book was a picture book about a child who had many different interests,” Rinderle said. “They were really able to relate to the importance of belonging.”
Rinderle said that after reading the book, the students were asked to write poems about their shadows.
Reactions to the lesson on gender
After the lesson, a number of parents complained to the school and the teacher. However, Rinderle said that some parents had welcomed the lesson.
“What the district has decided, unfortunately, is truly not representative of all parents’ viewpoints,” she said of the firing.
The Cobb County Board of Education terminated the teacher with a vote of 4-3, after the superintendent Chris Ragsdale recommended, she be fired.
In June, Rinderle first heard that the school intended to end her employment as they wrote to her explaining they were unhappy with her “insubordination [and] willful neglect of duties,” a copy of the letter said.
The letter went on to say that the complex issue of gender identity was not an age-appropriate topic to discuss with students.
The school also noted they had issues with the use of they/them pronouns in class and another book that had been taught, which was written by Democrat Stacey Abrams.
“The district is pleased that this difficult issue has concluded; we are very serious about keeping our classrooms focused on teaching, learning, and opportunities for success for students,” the Cobb County School District said in a statement.
“The Board’s decision is reflective of that mission.”