Darien Parents is reporting that advanced 8th grade English students at Middlesex Middle School were assigned a potentially controversial book called The 57 Bus by Dashka Slate as part of the non-fiction curriculum unit.
The book is about a genderqueer teen whose skirt was lit on fire while riding the 57 bus.
The true story addresses the intersections of race, class and gender, and includes discussion on transitioning and the desire to inflict self-harm due to gender dysphoria. It contains references to sexuality, alternate gender ideologies, profanity (see below chart for word counts) and inflammatory political commentary, such as discussions about complex topics like abortion and whether the United States justice system is institutionally racist.
Students were given the option to choose from several different books for the assignment, however parents are upset that the description of The 57 Bus provided by the school made no mention of the potentially controversial topics covered in the book, or that such topics may in fact be inappropriate for at 13-year-old student.
The parental rights group Darien Parents said, "Topics like gender fluidity and how to reconcile group differences in criminality are difficult for even thoughtful adults to resolve in good faith. However, at MMS, they are being introduced to middle schoolers under the guise of a non-fiction assignment. The synopsis provided by the school to the students doesn't reflect the mature themes explored by the book. Why the evasiveness and lack of transparency from Darien Public Schools once again?"
Darien Parents is encouraging concerned parents to email Board of Education Chairperson Jill McCammon with any concerns.
You can also find more screenshots from the book on the Darien Parents website.