With all the talk about GLSEN in the news lately, parents have been asking whether the Greenwich Public School district maintains any sort of relationship with the controversial organization.
Previously, on April 15, 2022, Greenwich Patriots issued a public records request to GPS to address this exact question.
The school responded on May 6, 2022, and indicated that it has no formal affiliation with the group.
However, the response did acknowledge that the Greenwich High School (GHS) Media Center had received a grant from GLSEN’s Rainbow Library Community Reads Project. The program operates in 8 states, including Connecticut, and provides free K-12 LGBTQ+ affirming text sets to schools and libraries that request the items.
The free GHS Rainbow Library included the following titles:
• Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
• Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
• Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (available in both English and Spanish)
• Queer History of the United States for Young People by Richie Chevat
• All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
• Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
• If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
• If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
• Like Water by Rebecca Podos
While some of the titles on the list are not considered to be controversial, other titles have been cited as the most frequently challenged books in the country.
This includes titles like Beyond Magenta, which talks about a 6-year-old who has performed oral sex on adult males in the neighborhood. The book goes on to describe pedophiles masturbating but never mentions the fact that these acts were illegal. The book All Boys Aren't Blue has been assigned a “not for minors” rating by BookLooks.org for the extremely graphic sexual content. And the book Felix Ever After has been challenged for graphic depictions of sexual activities and drug use, as well as featuring a teen with top surgery scars on the cover. (You can click on the links to see examples of the content.)
These books are still available in GHS.
You might recall the story that went viral about the book Julian Is A Mermaid being found in Darien's second grade “acceptance” curriculum. The book is recommended reading for the social emotional learning program RULER (note that RULER was piloted in Eastern Middle School in Greenwich without Board approval). At the end of the day, the Darien BOE decided the book, which promoted drag queens, was suitable and that parents could not opt out of the lesson.
Other seemingly innocent tiles like the graphic novel “Drama” have led to surprising conversations for parents who were unaware that their third graders were exposed a book that explores homosexuality and bisexuality, especially at a time when their children still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. (This book is available in 9 Greenwich elementary schools and all three middle schools.)
Meanwhile, Democrats have called any challenge on the appropriateness of books for public school libraries to be “book bans”.
However, once people take the time to look inside the cover and find out what all the pushback is about, they are often surprised at what they discover.
One person even sheepishly remarked, “I guess that’s why movies have a rating system, isn’t it? I had no idea how graphic this stuff really was. Thank you for showing me what this book ban talk was really about. I just really had no idea."