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School district declines participation in reading program

May 2, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A second Oregon school district will not to allow its third- through fifth-graders participate in a statewide reading program after finding the content of a book about a transgender child inappropriate.

The Cascade School District south of Salem has decided not to take part in the Oregon Battle of the Books next school year, citing concerns related to the book “George,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday.

The book tells the story of a 10-year-old who everyone thinks is a boy but who feels like she is a girl.

The principals from the district’s elementary schools decided the book was not suitable, Superintendent Darin Drill said.

“What they said was it’s not so much about the transgender issue,” Drill said. “There are a couple of scenes in the book that they felt aren’t appropriate for third-graders.”

The reading program provides a list of books for students to read. The students read the books, form teams and compete in a game show-like format using knowledge of the books.

The program does not require students to participate or to read every book.

The Hermiston School District has also declined to participate though it will allow older students to take part if they choose. Both school districts plan to create their own reading competitions for the students.

Sara Hernandez, who has a 9-year-old daughter in the Cascade School District, said the decision was frustrating and parents did not have a voice in matter.

“There were so many other ways the district could have handled it, but basically went with what they felt would be the path of least resistance,” Hernandez said.

In a statement Tuesday, the book’s author Alex Gino said a selection committee vetted the book and found that it met the criteria to be included on the state list.

“My book will not make anyone transgender, but it can help make people trans aware, and bring connection to those who already are trans, and I believe that those are good things,” Gino said. “I don’t believe that there’s any age before which it is appropriate to learn compassion.”

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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