La Canada Unified Assigns Book Containing Explicit Content to 6th Graders
It has come to our attention that in the La Canada Unified School District at Paradise Canyon Elementary, a 6th grade teacher provided students with a reading assignment of the book George by Alex Gino. This book is about a young boy who thinks he is a girl and contemplates genital surgery, hormone treatment, and social transition, from male to female. The book was read in small groups of children, out loud to one another, and discussed for weeks.
Please consider as you read this article that George is not only in La Canada Unified; One Glendale parent reported that it is in every elementary school in Glendale Unified School District, and another Burbank parent reported it is in several elementary schools in Burbank Unified.
The content of the book is age inappropriate for 11-12 year olds. It references a child considering surgically removing his penis, pornography, male genitalia, and has themes throughout of parental alienation and secrecy from parents. As you look through some of the quotes from the book, please be aware that parents reported to us that this was not a quick at-home assignment. This book was read and discussed for weeks, with the students in small groups.
Here are some quotes from the book:
“She immersed her body in the warm water and tried not to think about what was between her legs, but there it was, bobbing in front of her.”
“‘That's it.’ Scott grinned, oblivious to George's panic. ‘That's my little bro! Growing up and looking at dirty magazines!’’
“Hey, Rick. It looks like someone's finally start to grow some balls.”
“There was nothing George dreaded more than when boys talked about what was in her underpants.”
“‘Dude, I thought you had porn or something in there, so I took a peek.’”
“‘So, like, do you want to’ – he made a gesture with two fingers like a pair of scissors – ‘go all the way?’ George squeezed her legs together. ‘Maybe someday,’ she said.”
“‘I didn't even know you had any skirts,’ said George. ‘I don't wear them to school. Boys are dirty and try to look up them.’”
“Melissa took off her own underwear, stepped into Kelly’s, and pulled it up under her skirt. Other than the coolness of the fabric on her skin, she could barely tell she was wearing anything at all.”
“She lifted her skirt to see her underwear, covered in tiny red hearts. She pulled it down, sat, and peed; just like a girl.”
And here is an excerpt from the book that explicitly teaches children about medical surgeries, hormone treatment, social transition, and also frames the barrier of a child becoming their true self as “parents’ permission.” It is written in such a way that the parent is an obstacle rather than a source of support:
“George had seen an interview on television a few months ago with a beautiful woman named Tina. She had golden-brown skin, thick hair with blond highlights, and long, sparkling fingernails. The interviewer said that Tina had been born a boy, then asked her whether she’d had the surgery. The woman replied that she was a transgender woman and that what she had between her legs was nobody’s business but hers and her boyfriend’s.”
“So George knew it could be done. A boy could become a girl. She had since read on the Internet you could take girl hormones that would change your body, and you could get a bunch of different surgeries if you wanted them and had the money. This was called transitioning. You could even start before you were eighteen with pills called adrogen blockers that stopped the boy hormones already inside you from turning your body into a man’s. But for that, you needed your parents’ permission.”
Parents were shocked to find out about this book assignment, but we’ve also received reports that the students were shocked as well. We have been told that students were placed into small groups and were given a list of approximately five books to choose from, but the book titles had no descriptions. Some students picked George because they thought it was about Curious George.
Parents have reached out to us to express concerns, but they are terrified of saying anything because they do not want to be labeled transphobic. The parents did not object to the subject-matter of the book or that the protagonist was a trans girl. They were concerned with age appropriateness of the subjects discussed, particularly the sexualized material in the book: fantasies of self-mutilation, discussion of pornography, graphic descriptions of nudity and toileting activities, and more.
Other concerned parents objected to the book’s explicit erosion of parental authority. At one point in the book, the main character explains how his older brother advised how to avoid the scrutiny of their mother when looking for transgender information on the Internet by clearing the browser history on their mom’s computer. This is particularly alarming during a time when many schools in La Canada Unified, Glendale Unified, and Burbank Unified have retained use of Chromebooks and other internet devices post-COVID, and are letting students use them throughout the school day, where parents would not be able to monitor use even if they wanted to.
One of the most important things you need to know: for some students, there was no possibility of opting out of this material – opting out of information about gender identity is not a possibility in the state of California. And most importantly, the parents were never notified of the presence of such a controversial book in advance.
Contact Paradise Canyon Principal Carrie Hetzel at <email@example.com> and La Canada Unified District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette at <firstname.lastname@example.org> and let them know your thoughts.
If you live in La Canada, Burbank or Glendale and have documents or testimonials from your child’s schools, please send us information at email@example.com. Your identity will always remain confidential.
If you found this article concerning or informative, please feel free to forward it to a fellow parent at your school.
The Gender Identity K-12 Team