After complaints, no LGBTQ books in Kalamazoo reading program

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CREDIT SEHVILLA MANN / WMUK

Some parents in Kalamazoo, Mich. are making it a little harder for school administrators to brainwash children, standing up to an effort to put transgender-themed books into elementary school classrooms.

Kalamazoo Public Schools ran headlong into controversy when the district sought to “diversify” book selections for elementary pupils. Last week KPS confirmed that their push won’t include books with LGBTQ content, WMUK reports.

In a statement, the district said the decision follows complaints by some parents about a story that featured a transgender child.

“The district received complaints from three parents,” the statement reads. “The district made the decision to focus the diverse classroom book selection process on just issues of racial and ethnic diversity, and to avoid other diversity issues such as disability, socio-economics, and sexuality at this time.”

KPS officials said in a follow-up statement that “The Diverse Classroom Libraries” project had a narrow focus to increase the racial and ethnic diversity represented in books in the classroom.” The statement goes on to say that a book about a transgender character read by a teacher to a third-grade class, “…was not included in the classroom libraries because it did not meet the basic criteria for that project – it was not written by nor was it about a person of color.”

The program’s emphasis on pointing out racial differences has been clear from the beginning. KPS says that about 6 in 10 students in the district come from a racial or ethnic minority background.

The district adds that research from the University of Wisconsin shows that “only 23 percent of children’s books have characters from racially diverse backgrounds.”

But Northglade Elementary parent Sarah Davis says that leaving LGBTQ-centered books out of the Diverse Classroom Libraries project shortchanges hundreds of KPS students. She criticized the district’s decision at a school board meeting earlier this month.

“Our kids feel invisible and erased, and in order to keep them safe, and making them feel loved and included, these books need to be part of these classroom libraries. I’m not personally asking teachers to teach them, but to have them on the shelf,” she told WMUK.

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