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Georgia Teacher Fired for Reading Gender-Inclusive Book Appeals Decision

Author: Christopher Wiggins

After administrators alleged that she violated the district’s regulations by reading a book about gender fluidity to her students, a Georgia public school teacher attempted to reverse her dismissal by speaking at a hearing concerning the matter on Thursday.

After teaching for a decade, Katie Rinderle got in trouble in March after reading My Shadow Is Purple, a picture book for children, to her fifth-grade students at Due West Elementary School in Cobb County, in the Atlanta metroplex. She was eventually fired, but earlier this week, the disciplinary process moved forward, the Associated Press reports.

In light of a nationwide conservative assault on LGBTQ-themed books and school lessons, this case has gained considerable attention due to its concern with teachers’ teaching abilities, the control of school systems over teachers, and whether or not some parents should have a say in the public curriculum.

“This termination is unrelated to education,” Rinderle’s lawyer argued Thursday. “It exists to create political scapegoats for the elected leadership of this district. Reading a children’s book to children is not against the law.”

Cobb County officials say Rinderle broke school rules by teaching controversial subjects, and parents complained, leading to Rinderle’s termination. Cobb County is the second-largest school district in Georgia.

“Introducing the topic of gender identity and gender fluidity into a class of elementary grade students was inappropriate and violated the school district policies,” argued the school district’s counsel.

But Rinderle disagreed.

The fact that Rinderle read the book wasn’t wrong, she said, because she found it “appropriate” and not a sensitive topic. She argued Thursday that the book conveys a message to students about their many interests and the desire to be free to choose and explore them all.

Following Georgia Republican lawmakers’ ban on “divisive concepts” in the classroom and creating a bill of rights for parents in 2022, Cobb County adopted a rule prohibiting teaching controversial issues.

Divisive concepts law prohibits teachers from “espousing personal political beliefs.” By law, parents have “the right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of his or her minor child.”

According to Georgia law, teachers cannot be fired without cause. Three retired school principals will review Rinderle’s case and recommend whether to fire or retain her, but ultimately the school board will decide the educator’s fate.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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