An online fundraising project to publish new LGBTQ2S picture books for children aged 4-8, with the hope of having the books picked up by schools, has recently met its fundraising target. 693 backers pledged a combined $56,793 to the project, called the “Flamingo Rampant Book Club.” The fundraising goal was $49,000.
The books will “celebrate a great and wide variety of LGBTQ2S kids, families, and communities,” according to the description of the project. The books will also “celebrate gender-independent kids and adults.”
The individual behind the project is S. Bear Bergman. Given that his same-sex spouse, who goes by the name “j wallace,” is an employee of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and that these books are being marketed to teachers and school librarians, it is more than likely that these books will end up in elementary school classrooms across Toronto.
The fundraising webpage for the project brags about the positive press the project has gotten, and displays links to articles on websites such as B*tch Magazine. According to one of these articles, found at Advocate.com, the books produced by the Flamingo Rampant Book Club “will explicitly feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirited people,” and that the target audience is pre-K to 3rd grade. Bergman’s own book, which is expected to be titled Is That For a Boy or Girl? “features twelve kids rhyming about their gender binary-defying interests.”
Another of the articles, published on Gayswithkids.com, states that in most currently existing LGBT-themed books, “even when LGBT families are represented, they’re usually white, live in suburbs, and have exactly and only two parents” and that the Flamingo Rampant Book Club will aim to “tell a wider variety of stories.” This has generated speculation that the new books may even portray families with more than two parents.
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J Wallace is the student equity program advisor at the TDSB’s gender-based violence prevention office, and a book list on his personal website includes 10,000 Dresses (a picture book about a boy who thinks he is a girl and wears dresses) which he recommends for preschool – grade 2, and My Princess Boy which he recommends for grade 2 children. Also on the list of books he recommends for primary school children are sex-change books such as When Kathy is Keith, and My Mommy is a Boy – which is about a transgendered mother who transitions from female to male.
Furthermore, the TDSB’s gender-based violence prevention office regularly refers My Princess Boy to various schools. In addition, according to the TDSB website, both My Princess Boy and 10,000 Dresses – as well as a book previously published by S. Bear Bergman – are being used in elementary schools in the TDSB.
Should these new books from the Flamingo Rampant Book Club make their way into Toronto’s elementary school classrooms, it will only add to the numerous examples of activists exploiting the public education system to push their own radical gender politics.