A Georgia teacher was fired for reading a book about gender identity to her fifth-grade class.
The Cobb County School Board voted 4-3 on Thursday night to fire fifth-grade teacher Katie Rinderle over the book “My Shadow is Purple” which she purchased at the school’s book fair.
Rinderle had been on paid leave until the school board made its decision. Her dismissal is effective immediately, 11 Alive News reported.
Rinderle read the book to her fifth-grade students, ages 9 and 10, at Due West Elementary school in March.
She said her students chose the book from several options for her to read – even though they are old enough to read.
“My Shadow is Purple” features a non-binary boy character whose “shadow” wears a dress. The book focuses on challenging society’s gender norms.
After reading to her class, Rinderle and the students discussed the book’s subject.
“That’s what our conversation was really focusing on … the power of not only embracing your unique differences and abilities, but then valuing those in others and learning from those,” Rinderle said in a video from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Less than a month after giving her students an assignment on gender identity, a parent complained to the Cobb County School District.
The school district said her choice of book violated Georgia’s Divisive Concepts Law, which was passed in 2022. The law gives parents more control over what’s taught in the classroom.
Rinderle’s attorney, Craig Goodmark, said teachers statewide don’t know what’s legal under the new law.
“The legislature has teachers in fear for their jobs, they don’t know what they can say and what they can’t say,” he told 11 Alive News.
“It’s impossible for a teacher to know what’s in the minds of parents when she starts her lesson,” he added.
“And for parents to be able, with a political agenda from outside the classroom, to come in and have a teacher fired, is simply unfair, it’s not right, and it’s terrible for Georgia’s education system.”
Rinderle’s termination hearing was held on Aug. 10. A disciplinary panel recommended that she keep her job. But the Cobb County School District rejected their recommendation, according to Fox 5 News.
Goodmark said he and a teacher’s union will consider appealing the termination and/or filing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
He added that Rinderle’s teacher’s license is not affected and she could go to work for another school district.
Watch the video below.