Children’s author defends teacher set to be fired for reading inclusive book to class

A young person reads a book in a school library like setting

Best-selling children’s author Scott Stuart has defended a teacher who faces the sack for reading his book to her class, after one parent complained it contained “pornographic” material and “inappropriate topics”. 

Katie Rinderle has been put on administrative leave from her fifth-grade teacher role in Cobb County, Georgia, after she read aloud from My Shadow is Purple, in a bid to discuss inclusion and acceptance. 

The book explores “being true to yourself” and “considers gender beyond binary”.

Australian Stuart’s children’s books have topped best-seller lists and been adapted for both stage and screen. My Shadow is Purple was nominated for a 2023 Australian Book Industry Award.

My Shadow is Purple has caused controversy. (Waterstones)

According to the Daily Mail: Stuart, whose book has been banned in several US states, said: “’This entire thing is disgusting. To be very clear, there is nothing sexual or pornographic about this book. It’s a book of acceptance and inclusion.

“We need to be supporting teachers, not vilifying them.”

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Taking to TikTok, Stuart showed positive feedback from Rinderle’s class and explained how the comment of just one parent led to her job being put at risk.

“Her teaching is described as transformative and key to the school’s success,” Stuart said.

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“This whole thing goes to show how much more interested the school system in the US is in playing politics than it is in educating kids. It’s gross, It’s disgusting.”

@scott.creates

And the book was purchased AT THE SCHOOL at a book fair.

♬ original sound – Scott Stuart

Cobb County School District told FOX 5 its actions are “appropriate, considering the entirety of the teacher’s behaviour and history”. 

The district said it remains committed to strictly enforcing all board policy and the law.

Rinderle faces a hearing in August, with her lawyers arguing that new “divisive concepts” laws, passed in Georgia last year make no mention of gender or sexuality. 

Rinderle’s attorney, Craig Goodmark, said: “Divisive concepts or controversial issues laws… they’re vague. They’re very difficult to understand, and now in practice, in our public schools, they’re being used to take good teachers and remove them from the classroom. 

“She’s not giving up, she believes she has not violated any rules or policies that she understands. She believes she created a legitimate lesson.” 

Rinderle asked her district what “divisive concepts” means, and said she never received a response after being told they would research it. 

If fired, Rinderle will be the first teacher to be let go under Georgia’s censorship laws.

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