As an elementary school teacher who teaches physical education to children with disabilities in seven Orange County schools, I want to warn parents there are books in our K–12 schools teaching kids how to use adult “hookup” apps while instructing them how to perform various sex acts.
I first found this book in one of my elementary schools, because it was provided through an outside agency. Then I discovered the same book is in our middle school and high school district libraries. Even worse, I realized this book is in public schools across California and the nation, because it’s endorsed by the National Education Association, California Federation of Teachers, and the American Library Association, and is on their celebrated “banned books” list.
My school district partners with the city library’s mobile library program that visits schools, parks, and the city zoo. In September 2023, the Knowledge Mobile, as it’s called, was visiting one of my elementary schools. As I browsed the bookshelves, a colorful book caught my eye, so I checked it out. I was shocked at what I found. In a section called “How sex apps work,” the book tells readers to upload a picture of yourself to the app. It explains that the app can access your location and will locate others so you can chat and meet up. The title of the book is: “This Book Is Gay” by Juno Dawson.
Of course, for the sake of liability, the book says the hookup app, Grindr, has an age minimum of 18 years old. However, it’s common knowledge that savvy minors easily gain access to content labeled “mature” by lying about their date of birth. Plus, if this information is meant for ages 18 and up, why is it in our publicly funded K–12 schools?
In reading the book “This Book is Gay,” I found the language immature. For example, to describe human anatomy or sex acts, the book uses words such as: willy, bum, and poo. The book also describes a disturbing scenario where a 16-year-old boy and an older married man flirt in a guitar shop, and their flirtations advance into foreplay.
I was so upset about the content of this book that I contacted the city library director. He told me he is pressured by politicians to include books like this in the mobile library. I sent a letter to the county district attorney about this, but I never heard back.
Why do politicians want these types of books in a bookmobile for children? Could it be because their campaigns are funded by unions? The teacher unions say they want our schools to be a “safe place” for kids who identify as LGBT, yet they endorse a book that promotes an adult sex app.
In 2021, National Public Radio conducted interviews from users of Grindr and reported, “The dating app Grindr is supposed to be for men seeking men. But many underage boys are using it to hook up with adults, and that can put them at risk of exploitation and trafficking.” Jenifer McKim from Boston Public Radio stated, “Grindr is one of many online sites where minors can be stalked. Boys and girls are victimized. But researchers say the number of male victims is vastly underreported, in part because boys are less likely to disclose their abuse.”
Users of the app warn that Grindr does not verify identities, including age, which enables predatory behaviors. Ms. McKim interviewed a young man, German Chavez, who said he was sexually assaulted when he was in middle school by a 60-year-old man he met on Grindr. A year later, he said he was using the app to sell sex to help his family pay bills. He said he did not see himself as a victim—instead he blamed himself. Reading these stories broke my heart and made me very angry at those responsible for promoting the Grindr app through our school library books.
NBC San Diego reported in 2014 an incident of a man bragging about how he intentionally infected his Grindr hookups with HIV. When I became a state delegate for the California Teachers Association in 2022, I learned that my union supported the passage of Senate Bill 239, which was signed into law, and states that intentionally infecting someone with the HIV virus is no longer a felony. If the teachers’ union cares so much about the safety of vulnerable kids who identify as LGBT, then why did they support a law that can place naïve kids at the mercy of sophisticated abusive predators?
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By Brenda Lebsack. Published with permission from Alex Newman at LibertySentinel.org.