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State Farm faces heat over gender identity school book program

Illinois legislators and advocacy group Equality Illinois issued a joint assertion Thursday calling out State Farm after the insurance coverage large pulled help for a gender identity school book program.

Facing backlash, Bloomington-based State Farm ended its partnership this week with the GenderCool Project, a “youth-led” nonprofit group that distributes youngsters’s books about being transgender, inclusive and nonbinary to colleges and libraries. Now the insurance coverage company is feeling the heat from LGBTQ advocates.

“When it came to our attention that State Farm had reversed this partnership with the GenderCool Project, we found that to be reprehensible,” mentioned state Sen. Mike Simmons, a North Side Democrat and the primary brazenly homosexual state senator in Illinois. “In 2022, we need allies who are for real, and who are really going to stand with the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly when we are under siege right now in so many parts of the country.”

Simmons was one in all 5 Illinois legislators to signal the assertion, which mentioned State Farm made a “knee-jerk concession to bigotry” by dropping its help for the GenderCool Project.

State Farm got here below hearth this week after a January letter recruiting 550 brokers and staff to take part within the program by donating a three-book bundle to lecturers, neighborhood facilities and libraries was printed on-line by Consumers’ Research. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit instructional group launched a marketing campaign important of the program, calling State Farm “a creepy neighbor” focusing on 5-year-olds.

State Farm posted a press release on its web site Tuesday explaining the choice to finish its affiliation with GenderCool, saying it didn’t help “required curriculum in schools on this topic.” But with criticism over the abrupt determination mounting, State Farm issued a press release Thursday affirming its help for the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.

“We cannot take back the frustration, hurt and emotion many have endured as a result of our actions and our response, but we can move forward knowing we will continue to respect and support everyone in our communities, representing every group within our society,” the company mentioned.

Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, a nonprofit group advocating for LGBTQ rights, mentioned the State Farm partnership with GenderCool was by no means supposed to make the books required studying for youngsters in colleges.

“This was a volunteer program with State Farm for employees and agents … to make sure that books which talk about gender identity in an accurate and affirming way were accessible by people who wanted it,” mentioned Johnson, who additionally signed the legislators’ assertion.

Gender identity training in colleges has develop into a lightning rod concern within the wake of current laws enacted in Florida, Texas and different states, which critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” legal guidelines.

In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed laws “prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten by third grade. The Parental Rights in Education legislation has sparked outrage amongst LGBTQ+ advocates and opposition from dozens of firms, together with Disney, which has 77,000 staff at its Disney World theme park in Orlando.

Last month, World Business Chicago, the town’s public-private financial improvement arm, launched a advertising marketing campaign in Florida, Texas and Arizona to advertise Chicago as a extra inclusive business local weather.

With Pride Month starting subsequent week and the annual Chicago Pride Parade scheduled for June 26, Johnson mentioned State Farm is not going to be welcome to take part within the festivities — until it reverses the choice to drop help for GenderCool.

“You can’t actually rescind support for families and young people who want to learn about gender identity in an affirming way, and then next week launch a marketing blitz that says you’re super supportive of the LGBTQ+ community,” Johnson mentioned. “At least you can’t do both those things without us calling out your hypocrisy.”

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