“State Farm tells us they’re a good neighbor, but would a good neighbor target 5-year-olds for conversations about sexual identity?” the narrator says in a video posted Monday by the conservative group Consumers’ Research. “That’s what State Farm is doing.”
Hours after a report about the partnership caused an online uproar from conservatives, State Farm announced that it was dropping its support of the GenderCool Project, which aimed to help raise awareness around what it means to be transgender, inclusive and nonbinary.
State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson confirmed to The Washington Post on Tuesday that the insurance company had ended its support of GenderCool after it had “been the subject of news and customer inquiries.”
“Conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents,” Gadson said in a statement. “We don’t support required curriculum in schools on this topic. We support organizations providing resources for parents to have these conversations. We no longer support the program allowing for distribution of books in schools.”
The company maintained that it would “continue to explore how we can support organizations that provide tools and resources that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
The news was reported by the conservative Washington Examiner on Monday night.
Officials with GenderCool did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Tuesday.
The move from State Farm is the latest in an academic year that’s seen more challenges to books in the United States than before. In early May, PEN America, a nonprofit organization that advocates for freedom of expression, found that 1,586 books have been yanked from libraries or classrooms in the nine months prior, with the majority disappearing secretly and outside proper procedures. By comparison, 2018, 2019 and 2020 each saw about 300 book challenges or bans, according to a tally from the American Library Association. Most of the books targeted feature LGBTQ or Black characters or address LGBTQ themes, race or racism.
The recent pushback on LGBTQ books is part of how Republican-led states are reshaping public education. Seventeen states have passed laws restricting what teachers can say about race, racism and sexism, according to an Education Week tracker.
Founded in 2018, GenderCool’s mission is to “replace misinformed opinions with positive experiences meeting transgender and non-binary youth who are thriving,” according to its website. The organization — which describes itself as “an inspiring disrupter” — has partnered with some of the biggest companies in the world, including Bank of America, Dell, General Mills, NBCUniversal and Nike.
“We are breaking through to millions of people who say they’ve never met a transgender or nonbinary person,” the group wrote on its website. “They feel conflicted about what they read, see and hear.”
News of GenderCool’s partnership with State Farm came up Monday, when Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, a conservative group that has targeted “woke capitalism,” tweeted an image of a January email from an employee. It shows a corporate responsibility analyst urging State Farm agents in Florida to volunteer and donate LGBTQ children’s books to libraries.
“State Farm is partnering with The GenderCool Project to help diversify classroom, community center and library bookshelves with a collection of books to help bring clarity and understanding to the national conversation about Being Transgender, Inclusive and nonbinary,” the official wrote in the email, according to Consumers’ Research. “The project’s goal is to increase representation of LGBTQ+ books and support our communities in having challenging, important and empowering conversations with children Age 5+.”
In a video posted to Twitter on Monday, Consumers’ Research accused State Farm of supporting “textbook indoctrination.”
“Like a creepy neighbor, State Farm is there,” the narrator says.
The video circulated among right-leaning media outlets and far-right Republican politicians such as Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who falsely accused State Farm of wanting to sexually groom children — a recent trend for GOP attacks on the LGBTQ community.
State Farm also got the attention of Libs of TikTok, a popular Twitter account that has morphed into a social media phenomenon spreading anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
“.@StateFarm is working to fill schools with books on kids becoming trans and nonbinary,” Libs of TikTok tweeted.
As the backlash bubbled over Monday, a State Farm executive wrote an email to staffers, announcing that the insurance company would no longer support the GenderCool program, according to the Examiner.
The move from State Farm is a departure from its previous public support of the LGBTQ community. In 2019, State Farm was among the hundreds of companies and industry associations to sign an amicus brief supporting LGBTQ equality in the workplace before three cases involving LGBTQ discrimination were reviewed by the Supreme Court. The high court eventually ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from workplace discrimination based on sex.
Steve McManus, general counsel and senior vice president at State Farm, said in a news release at the time that the insurance company believed “in a workplace free of discrimination, and we value and promote diversity, equality and inclusion.”
“As good neighbors, our long history and success story is built directly from committed, caring people helping other people,” State Farm wrote in 2019. “Sometimes how we help people involves supporting what we value and believe.”
On Tuesday, as critics and liberals on social media bashed State Farm for canceling the partnership to promote inclusivity, Gadson, the company spokesman, told The Post in a statement that State Farm still valued people in the LGBTQ community.
“We recognize and value the diversity of all people, and support a culture of respect and inclusion in the communities in which we live and work, as well as our workplace,” he said.
Hannah Natanson contributed to this report.