Zeiger Elementary faces backlash for putting book with transgender hero on display
An elementary school in Puyallup, Washington, is reportedly on the defensive after facing major pushback from parents for promoting a book featuring “top surgery” to its younger students.
The controversy began after staff at Zeiger Elementary set up a display for Pride Month outside the school’s library. They included art representing unconventional gender identities, including pansexual and polysexual, while also including several LGBTQ-themed books in the display. While most of the books were age-appropriate, one book caught the attention of concerned parents, titled 'Felix Ever After'. The school was immediately flooded with complaints, forcing it to remove the book. Now, the institution has vowed to enact new policies so this is not repeated in the future, KTTH reported.
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The controversial book 'Felix Ever After' is reportedly a young adult novel that tells the story of a 17-year-old Black, queer and transgender teen who is a victim of transphobia in modern-day society. The cover illustrates the protagonist in a tank top, revealing partial scars from so-called “top surgery.” The procedure is reportedly used by some transgender men to remove breast tissue and requires a patient to be at least 18 years old, or with parental consent.
Parents decried the book as inappropriate for elementary students, saying it doesn't just include subject matter that children may not be mentally ready for, including vulgarity. Furthermore, the book's publisher does not recommend the book for readers under 14.
“A large percentage of teachers and parents are against the gender confusion, sexualizing propaganda display at Zeiger Elementary and other schools, but they were all afraid to speak here. That is the Orwellian atmosphere Puyallup School District and this school board have cultivated,” activist Dawn Land said to cheers and applause at a recent school board meeting, KTTH reported. “I am here to speak out against this school district, daring to work against the cultures and morals of the diverse families in our schools. These children are not your children.”
Land noted that while not everything on display was inappropriate, a book with drugs, sex, and vulgarity in addition to the “top scars" was too much for children. She said it was “appalling that the Puyallup School District is actively advocating for this [to] our youngest and most vulnerable students.”
Happy #yawednesday friends Today we want to talk about Felix Ever After by Stonewall and Lambda-Award winning author @kacencallender This beautiful story follows Felix, a transgender teen, while he falls in the love for the first time while of a journey of self discovery&identity pic.twitter.com/He3J2n3u0C— B&N Fairlane Green (@BNFairlaneGreen) June 30, 2021
Land shared a letter with KTTH's Jason Rantz purportedly from concerned staff members at Zeiger who weren't comfortable speaking out themselves. In the letter, several school staff members anonymously called out the principal for being "overzealous and unilateral" in his Pride displays.
The school district reportedly agreed with Land that the book was inappropriate. “This book was inadvertently included in the Zeiger library display case in a hasten attempt to raise awareness and celebrate the LGBTQ community with staff and students,” district communications director Sarah Gillispie told KTTH in an email. “Our responsibility to promote age-appropriate learning materials was overshadowed in that attempt.”
Gillespie confirmed that the school had removed the book from the display following the backlash, and also promised to put in place a more effective vetting process moving forward. “This book is not available in any of our elementary libraries, and a stricter process has been put in place to vet the methods in which we celebrate authors and stories for Zeiger students,” she said.