Conservatives' panic about trans people has officially reached full-on hysteria.
In a scene straight out of something like The Crucible, a school district in Texas has barred access to all new library books because some parents THINK a "sexually explicit" children's book MIGHT be about gender fluidity.
Spoiler alert—it's not. It's just about a kitten who wants to be a unicorn, like back in the day when your brother said he wanted to be a rocket ship when he grew up. It's cute, silly kid's stuff.
But to these parents, it's obviously an agenda, even though there's absolutely no evidence in the book itself. One local parent, Anne Russey, is fighting back—and her social media campaign has underlined how absurd the Satanic-panic style uproar over trans people has become.
The book in question is Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham, a Caldecott and Newberry Award-winning picture book for kids aged four to seven. The book is described as a "delightful kitty and unicorn picture-book story that celebrates the magic of friendship—and being exactly who you want to be!'"
Aided and funded by Texans for Educational Freedom, a right-wing PAC, a member of the Katy Independent School District’s board of trustees sounded alarms by claiming she had seen books in school libraries that "support sexually alternative lifestyles."
The book that apparently started it all was the one about a kitty who wants to be a unicorn, which some parents automatically assumed was a reference to being transgender.
In a Facebook back-and-forth over the issue, Katy school district board member Morgan Calhoun referenced the book's use of the "they" pronoun and said many parents feel the book is "inappropriate" and "sexually suggestive."
Morgan Calhoun Katy ISD Trustee/Facebook
Calhoun said this was because "the main character does want to transform into something they are obviously not"—which is the very definition of everything from games of "let's pretend" that kids have played for generations to dressing up for Halloween, but whatever.
In response, Russey, who wrote on Twitter that she was "curious" to see what the book actually contained, checked it out.
And sure enough, there was basically nothing in it to support parents' or Calhoun's claims.
As she explained in her Facebook comment, the "they" pronoun is used in the book in the way that even transphobes use it themselves every day—to refer to multiple characters—and the kitty in question is only ever referred to as "she."
Russey also posted screenshots from the book itself to prove that there really is nothing to these allegations, showing a portion of the book where the kitty is referred to as "she"...
...and a moment when "they" is used in reference to two other characters, a gecko and a parakeet, who have just watched as the kitty shows off her new unicorn horn.
As Russey put it in her Facebook comment:
"I suggest you read it before you ban it for alleged 'gender fluidity' content...This complaint like so many you receive is fabricated."
Calhoun nevertheless insisted that "the context of the book is questionable" and explained that is why she brought it up to be banned on suspicion alone, which is basically how the Salem with trials and things like the McCarthy hearings worked. But why learn from history when you can use local government bodies to force your Christian Nationalist agenda instead?
Anyway, on social media, the absurdity of the Katy Independent School District's uproar over Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn was not lost on people.
The Katy school district recently instituted a policy which says a book can be banned if at least two board members say it should be.
The uproar over Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn also comes on the heels of a sweeping victory for Christian nationalists after the state's legislature passed a bill that forces teachers to out trans or nonbinary children to their parents—a move that will almost surely get queer and trans kids killed.
Just as Jesus surely would have wanted...