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A Book Meant to Prevent Discrimination Was Banned in Schools

Photograph by Twenty20

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of certain “controversial” books being banned in schools. Everything from "James and the Giant Peach" to "The Catcher in the Rye" have been the target of critics. The latest book to come under fire? "Jacob’s New Dress," a story about a boy who loves playing princess and wants to wear a dress to school.

The book was written to teach children about their gender-nonconforming peers and encourage understanding, while also providing reassurance for little ones like Jacob. In the story, Jacob’s teacher explains to his classmates, "Jacob wears what he's comfortable in. Just like you do. Not very long ago, little girls couldn't wear pants. Can you imagine that?"

Despite the book’s message of compassion and acceptance, teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina complained when they learned it was to be part of the first-grade curriculum, reports The Washington Post. Critics of the book claimed that it encouraged boys to wear dresses and wasn’t “appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.”

The complaints reached Republican lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly and within just a couple days, Charles Jeter, the school district’s government liaison, told The Post that Charlotte-Mecklenburg district officials had decided to remove the book from the curriculum.

“The initial first-grade book selection, which focuses on valuing uniqueness and difference, has been replaced due to some concerns about the book,” said school superintendent Ann Blakeney Clark in a statement.

The Washington Post shared an excerpt from the original lesson plan that incorporated the book. “It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, the color of your skin, the language you speak, or where you are from, everyone gets to choose what you like,” the lesson plan read. “Emphasize that students had many similarities and differences no matter how they look.”

Now instead of learning about Jacob, students will read "Red: A Crayon’s Story," an anodyne alternative featuring a blue crayon stuck in a red label. According to the publisher’s blurb, the book is about “being true to your inner self and following your own path, despite obstacles that may come your way.”

But even "Red: A Crayon’s Story" may still have some critics (which leaves us utterly baffled, by the way).

“I’m not sure they’re real thrilled with that book, either,” Jeter said of some General Assembly members. Because apparently a story about a nonconforming crayon is still too controversial.

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