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When it comes to life lessons kids need to learn, “don’t bully people who are different from you” should be somewhere near the top of the list. While kids are generally more accepting of diversity today than they used to be, that doesn’t make things automatically easier for LGBT children.

They know from a young age they’re not attracted to the opposite sex, or that they don’t fit a traditional gender role. Being different, then, still puts them in a difficult position. Schools can’t prevent every kind of bullying, but the sooner students learn that there’s nothing wrong with being LGBT, the less likely it becomes (one would hope) that they’ll bully those students.

That’s why the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system in North Carolina was planning to use the book Jacob’s New Dress in first grade classrooms. That book is all about Jacob, who doesn’t conform to typical male stereotypes, and how the adults in his life continue to support him because “there are all sorts of ways to be a boy.”


As you might guess, that didn’t sit very well with the godly types at the NC Values Coalition, who want to marginalize and denounce anything that doesn’t conform to black-and-white thinking on gender.

Their complaints worked. The book was eventually pulled from the curriculum.

The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic not to encourage boys to wear dresses

These lessons found in the book, Jacob’s New Dress and My Princess Boy and other transgender curriculum are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values. There is no question that this attempt by CMS staff to mandated training is nothing more than putting a dress on CMS’s Gender Unicorn. We encourage CMS to refocus on their mission of maximizing academic achievement instead of advancing this controversial curriculum.

There you have it: Let’s teach kids to be great students and awful human beings. (This, from the same people who constantly claim Science and English classes are part of some liberal conspiracy because they promote evolution and critical thinking…)

It’s also absurd to think that reading a book like Jacob’s New Dress would “encourage boys to wear dresses.” I’ve read books with gay characters. They never turned me gay.

One of the authors of the book doesn’t understand the argument, either.

In an email, Mr. [Ian] Hoffman rejected the notion that the book was a way to indoctrinate young people. The suggestion “that a book can turn someone gay, or transgender, or anything else is bizarre,” he wrote.

“If a white kid reads a book about Martin Luther King, is that kid going to become black?” he continued. “If a ballerina reads a book about football, is that going to make her try out for the N.F.L.?”

Regardless of how baseless the complaints were, the District eventually replaced the book with a different one teaching similar inclusive values: Red: A Crayon’s Story.

But the fact that a book about a gender-nonconforming boy caused this much controversy is precisely the reason why books like it need to be read and discussed. This is the state, after all, where discrimination against transgender people became law with HB 2.

Christians in the area still haven’t learned how to be decent people. They want to harass LGBT people — or at least prevent others from working to stop that harassment — for not fitting their outdated, misguided mold of what the world ought to look like.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.