Melrose Public Schools Recommends Incoming Kindergartners Read Book With Pro-Transgender Messaging

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A public school district north of Boston is recommending that five-year-olds read a pro-transgender book.

Melrose Public Schools put a book called Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love on its suggested summer reading list for incoming kindergartners, according to the school’s web site.

It’s an illustrated book published in 2018 about a boy who wants to become a mermaid; he doesn’t know what his grandmother will think, but she supports him.

Although mermaids do not exist, the definition of a mermaid (according to Merriam-Webster) is “a fabled marine creature with the head and upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.”

His grandmother supports his decision to dress as a mermaid and walks around with him to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, where he sees other men and women dressed up as mermaids.

In a review of the book, The Gothamist describes the protagonist as a “gender non-conforming child.”

“This beautiful book is one of the very few picture books about a gender non-conforming child,” the review said. “Yet it feels like a celebration of all children who want to do things differently than the parental figures in their lives — and a love letter to the grownups who deeply understand them.”

The book’s author told Pink News in 2019 that she was inspired to write the book after meeting a former partner’s sibling, who identified as transgender.

She also said that mermaids are a good representation of the transgender community.

“There’s something about mermaids,” Love told Pink News. “Who knows if that’s because they’re magical creatures who can live between two realities or because they don’t have any genitals, or because they’re f—— great.”

Love also said that, despite then-President Donald Trump’s administration’s contention that gender is biological and not a social construct, she hoped that art could serve as “effective propaganda” to get the public to support transgender rights.

“It feels pretty bleak here right now,” Love said, “and I don’t know the extent to which art can be effective propaganda or change anybody’s mind.”

Melrose is a city about 7 miles north of Boston. It has about 29,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Melrose Public Schools superintendent John Macero could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Nor could Love.


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