Activist state

State Farm cuts ties with group after anti-LGBTQ campaign

State Farm Insurance Company has terminated its partnership with a program which aims to raise awareness among children that “transgender and non-binary youth are like all other children” after being attacked in an anti-LGBTQ campaign by right-wing political and media figures.

On May 24, 2022, State Farm announced that it had terminated its involvement with GenreCoolan organization that describes itself as a youth-led project that, among various public awareness activities, offers three bookstitled “A Children’s Book About Being Non-Binary”, “A Children’s Book About Being Transgender” and “A Children’s Book About Inclusion”.

The books were written by teenagers in partnership with A Kids Book About. The company’s publications, according to USA Today, tackle tough topics like racism, anxiety, body image and cancer.

Gia Parr, author of “A Children’s Book About Being Transgender,” said USA today in 2021 about his motivation for writing the book:

“For people who already have trans children, I hope this teaches them that the future will be good. For trans people everywhere, it’s not easy. My experience has not been easy; I have always struggling,” she said, but the message of the book is, “’Wow, look at all you can do.’ (Parr was 17 at the time of the interview with USA Today).

The fracas around State Farm’s participation in the GenderCool project began on May 23, 2022, when conservative activist Will Hild tweeted an internal company email from a State Farm corporate responsibility analyst encouraging agents to donate the GenderCool three-pack to their communities. When donating the books, the email urged agents to “highlight our commitment to diversity on their social media pages.”

Hild, former deputy director of influential conservative group Federalist Society, currently runs Consumers’ Research, a non-profit organization founded in 1929. In 2021, Consumers’ Research spear an advertising campaign targeting CEOs on what she described as “woke capitalism”.

hid too tweeted an advertisement created by Consumers’ Research. The ad plays to the State Farm jingle that reads, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is here.” But the ad replaces the phrase “good neighbor” with “scary neighbor” and accuses the company of “manual indoctrination”. The ad (falsely) claims that State Farm asked employees to donate “books aimed at getting kindergartners to question their identities.”

“This gross and blatant attempt to indoctrinate our children into [State Farm] is shameless and consumers should be aware that a company built on family values ​​is now encouraging five-year-olds to question their gender,” Hild tweeted.

We contacted the Hild Consumers’ Research organization via the contact form on their website with a list of questions, including how they define the term “woke indoctrination”, what the group’s current focus is, and whether the group has LGBTQ+ specific views. community. We didn’t receive a response in time for publication, but we’ll update this story if we do.

We also reached out to State Farm to ask when and why they chose to partner with GenderCool and why, specifically, they ended the partnership.

State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson responded by pointing to a statement published by the company on May 24, 2022, which does not answer any of these questions, but states: “We do not support the compulsory curriculum in schools on this subject”, even if GenderCool does not seek to make its books compulsory to read at school.

State Farm’s statement further said, “We will continue to explore how we can support our associates, as well as organizations that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, including the LGBTQ community. +.”

The Washington Post reported this State Farm announcement came shortly after an “online uproar from conservatives.” The Post also quoted Gadson as saying State Farm had been “the subject of news and customer inquiries.”

So what is GenderCool?

GenderCool was founded in 2018 by Jennifer and John Grosshandler, parents of a transgender daughter, and Gearah Goldstein. The project aims to provide real-life stories of transgender and non-binary youth in an effort to help dispel what the organization describe as a “tidal wave of misleading, sensational and negative content about these incredible young people”.

The books offered by GenderCool are not “manual indoctrination” – they are autobiographical accounts written by transgender and non-binary youth, with the aim of demystifying and de-stigmatizing children from these minority groups.

“These books were written by young teenagers about their personal lives,” Jennifer Grosshandler told Snopes in a phone interview. “It’s important to know these teenagers. They’re honor students, they’re musicians, they’ve won awards for community service. They are normal children who write about their own life story.

Contrary to what the State Farm statement says, the GenderCool books were not written with the intention of being included in school curricula, Goldstein pointed out in a phone interview.

“They are not curriculum-based or written from the perspective of a pedagogical learning tool. They are simply autobiographical accounts of experiences young people have had with their own lives,” Goldstein said.

The attack on GenderCool and State Farm for partnering with the group follows an old political tactic of defaming LGBTQ people as child predators. In the 1970s, for example, an anti-gay activist Anita Bryant started an organization called “Save Our Children”, campaigning against legislative gay rights by claiming that members of the gay community were willing to “recruit” children.

Following this tactic, the anti-LGBTQ Twitter page TikTok Libs misrepresented the words of the book’s title, “A children’s book about being transgender”, Tweeter that State Farm “is working to fill schools with books about kids who become trans and non-binary.”

Goldstein said you don’t “become transgender”.

“You don’t grasp the idea of ​​being transgender and then become transgender,” said Goldstein, who is transgender. “It’s something you’re born with. There’s no way, no matter what they say, that the written word or a movie or anything can make someone change their gender identity.

The campaign against GenderCool mirrors a broader conservative campaign targeting books by LGBTQ+ authors about their life experiences, as well as topics like race and racism, attempting to have these books banned from school libraries.

But despite the culture war raging over the issue, Goldstein said what gets lost in the conversation are the kids in the middle.

“How do you tell a child that he has no value, no matter who that child is? Goldstein said. “We don’t indoctrinate or try to infiltrate. We are just families supporting our children.

Sources:

Javers, Eamon. “Conservative group launches ad campaign against ‘woke capitalism,’ targeting CEOs by name.” CNBC, May 18, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/18/conservative-group-launches-ad-campaign-targeting-nike-coca-cola-american-airlines-ceos.html.

Bella, Timothy. “State Farm drops support for LGBTQ children’s books after conservative furore.” Washington Post, May 24, 2022, www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/05/24/state-farm-lgbtq-childrens-books/.

“‘Who We Are, Not What We Are’: These Trans, Non-Binary Teens Hope Their Books Will Light Up The World During Pride.” USA TODAY, June 1, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/06/01/pride-2021-trans-nonbinary-teens-kids-book-about/7419333002/.

Lorenz, Taylor. “Meet the woman behind TikTok’s Libs, secretly fueling the right-wing outrage machine.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, 19 April 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/04/19/libs-of-tiktok-right-wing-media/.