A children’s book called Jacob’s New Dress has been banned by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school in North Carolina.
Written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, Jacob’s New Dress has been pulled from first grade classes for being a “threat to traditional family values”.
The ban comes almost a year after the House Bill 2 (HB2) was passed in the state.
The bill limits the rights of many LGBT+ people. Commonly referred to as the bathroom bill, it is infamous for it’s criminalisation of transgender people being able to use the appropriate bathroom for their gender identity, and instead have to align with their birth gender.
Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Sarah Hoffman expressed her upset, saying: “The idea that a book can turn someone gay or transgender is bizarre to us. Reading a book can’t turn you gay.
“If a white kid reads a book about Martin Luther King Jr., will they become black? This book is about a little boy who wears a dress, something outside of traditional gender roles, much like the idea of a girl wearing pants was 100 years ago. It’s about following your heart.”
The idea of the book is to discourage bullying in schools in regards to individuality involving dress sense.
When the Hoffman’s own child was four, he “wore a sparkly princess dress and carried a replica battle axe” around the house, inspiring the couple to create Jacob’s New Dress.
The banning is a result of increasing pressure on the school from Republicans and conservative parents.
Ian Hoffman said the excuses that are used for the ban are covering up a deeper rooted problem in society.
“All this talk about ‘privacy.’ But I think they are using the ‘slippery slope’ argument: If boys are allowed to do something outside the boy gender box, it is the next step to becoming gay,” he said.
Sarah added: “North Carolina seems like a very divided state. And I sense a lot of fear. We like that this conversation is being had. It’s why we wrote the book. In this case, it’s a forced conversation.”
This isn’t the first time Jacob’s New Dress has gained negative publicity with schools.
In Pennsylvania, the book was met with unsavoury parents who spoke to the local newspaper saying, “It’s not about a little boy wearing a dress. And it’s not about banning books being read, I just want the opportunity to know the book is being read…I don’t want to be surprised as a parent.”
Words Bonnie Hines