A prominent Christian group has expressed concern after Scholastic sent copies of George, a pro-transgender book for children, to 10,000 teachers and children's librarians, arguing that the book's message will simply cause unnecessary confusion among its intended audience.
The book, written by self-described "queer activist" Alex Gino and published by Scholastic, tells the story of 10-year-old George who says he doesn't feel like a boy, so he wants everyone to know he's really "Melissa." According to the book's description on Scholastic's website, George - formerly titled Girl George - is targeted at young children in 3rd to 7th grade.
"George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever," reads the description. "Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy."
Peter Sprigg of the conservative Christian group the Family Research Council has strongly condemned the book's message, saying it will do nothing but confuse impressionable children.
"It's challenging enough for normal children to navigate and come to terms with their gender, identity, what it means to be male or female," he said, CBN reports. "Things like this are only going to create greater confusion, add greater confusion to the struggles that in the ordinary course of things most children will have," he continued.
Speaking to the news outlet, Scholastic's editorial director David Levithan, who is also a gay activist, said he was using the same strategy his company used to make The Hunger Games series a pop-culture phenomenon, sending out thousands of copies to "prove that a book about a transgender 10-year-old could appeal to a mass market."
In addition to sending the book to 10,000 teachers and children's librarians, Scholastic reportedly took the author to major book fairs to promote the transgender message.
"My hope is that it be in every library in the country, that kids be able to get their hands on it," Gino told Kirkus Reviews. "I want it to be a book that someone passes to someone and says, 'You have to.'"
However, in continuing his comments to CBN, Sprigg charged that such books are not necessarily compassionate toward struggling children because they may even prevent children with gender issues from receiving helpful treatment.
"It may plant ideas in the minds of those who are struggling in some way. And this is completely unnecessary because what the research shows is that most children who struggle with gender identity issues actually have those issues resolved before adulthood and do not change their gender identity from their biological sex at birth," he explained.