(LifeSiteNews) — A teacher in Georgia has lost her job after reading a book on gender ideology to her 5th grade class, violating a state law prohibiting the use of educational materials to promote controversial viewpoints.
Last week, the Cobb County school board voted to fire Katie Rinderle, a teacher of 10 years, for violating district policies by reading a book laced with suggestive ideas that boys and girls can become the opposite sex, be a combination of the two, or be neither.
The decision overrode a recommendation from a tribunal of retired teachers who agreed that Rinderle violated school policies but said that she should not lose her job because of it. District policies were updated to adhere to state laws enacted last year that restrict the promotion of “divisive concepts” in education.
“The district is pleased that this difficult issue has concluded,” Cobb County school officials said in a statement after the August 17 decision. “We are very serious about keeping our classrooms focused on teaching, learning, and opportunities for success for students. The board’s decision is reflective of that mission.”
Rinderle was represented by the radical left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which quoted its own attorney, Mike Tafelski, who said that the group is “not surprised” by what he described as “a predetermined outcome.” The lawyer further claimed that the board “continue[s] to prioritize discrimination [and] bigotry” and that “this is not the end of this case.”
“I am disappointed in the district’s decision to terminate me for reading an inclusive and affirming book—one that is representative of diverse student identities,” Rinderle said, according to a SPLC press release. “The district is sending a harmful message that not all students are worthy of affirmation in being their unapologetic and authentic selves…Censorship perpetuates harm and students deserve better.”
Despite claims from Rinderle and her attorney, the decision to terminate her employment with the school system was based on a series of 2022 laws that restrict the promotion of “divisive concepts” through educational resources. The book that Rinderle read, titled “My Shadow is Purple,” shares a message to children that gender is vague and undefined and that individuals can choose to be male, female, both, or neither.
Published in June 2022 and written by pro-LGBT children’s author Scott Stuart, the picture book follows a young boy whose “shadow is purple” rather than blue like his dad and the other boys. “Not having to choose” between stereotypical girls’ activities and boys’ activities motivates the boy to behave like a combination of both sexes. When attending a school dance, he wears a male suit jacket over a female skirt.
At the end of the book, once one child announces his “gender fluidity” and “yellow shadow” to those attending the dance, one child after another follows suit and declares that they, too, are something other than a girl or a boy.
Stuart has written several other picture books celebrating “diversity and inclusion” and “being true to yourself.” He is also preparing to launch a podcast titled “Parenting Beyond Gender Stereotypes.”
According to a June 22 SPLC press release, Rinderle read the book aloud to her 5th graders and “then asked her students to self-reflect and write a ‘shadow’ poem.” Directly after reading “My Shadow is Purple,” one student reportedly wrote, “My shadow is purple and now I do know that everyone’s different and not to be woe [sic] when my heart glows and tells me to see it’s fine to be me.”
The child’s reflection appears to be simply paraphrasing what he or she had just heard in the pro-LGBT book. SPLC explained in the release that Rinderle “refused to resign” when given the opportunity and “was issued her official notice of termination on June 6.”
Last year, Georgia lawmakers passed multiple bills seeking to limit “divisive concepts” being taught in schools. Both SB 377 and HB 1084 define such concepts as the belief that a given race or ethnicity “is inherently superior” and “inherently racist or oppressive” to others.
The legislation also denounces inspiring guilt in students of a given race, teaching that a member of a certain race “bears responsibility for actions committed by other individuals of the same race,” and claiming that “performance-based advancement or traits such as hard work ethic are racist” or that “the United States of America and the State of Georgia are fundamentally or systemically racist.”
The bills seek to “prevent the use of curricula or training programs which act upon, promote, or encourage certain concepts,” statutes of which Rinderle was found to have violated. Additionally, state law requires all state programs to “take appropriate disciplinary action” against an employee “who authorizes or approves a training program that acts upon, promotes, or encourages divisive concepts.”
In April 2022, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Parental Bill of Rights into law to further protect families from education officials teaching unwanted and radical left-wing ideologies to children without parental knowledge or consent.