Call Me Max, by Kyle Lukoff, is a children’s book on about the level of If You Give a Mouse A Cookie or Eloise – a story for children about ages 6-10. It’s about a young trans boy figuring out who he is and how he fits in with his friends. The book talks from Max’s perspective about what does or doesn’t define girls and boys, about the unique challenges young transgender children face, and about the many ways they’re no different from any other kid.
“Being a boy isn’t better than being a girl. But being myself is best,” it ends.
Horizon Elementary School, in Murray, Utah, has a book program designed to increase the diversity of children’s books being read to students in their third-grade classes, called the equity books program. Students were asked to bring in books about parts of their identity, although the school claims it meant racial, ethnic, or cultural identities. One third grade student brought in Call Me Max and added it to the shelf for the equity program.
After the student’s teacher read the book aloud in class, reportedly deflecting any and all questions, parents began to respond angrily. The Murray School District did not have its teacher’s back, although officials did decline to identify her to the press.
“She just flat out made a mistake,” said Doug Perry, a spokesman for Murray School District. “That book is not appropriate for the grade level it was being shared.”
He might be right, in that. It was written for children younger than third grade.
Not content just to throw their teacher under the school bus, the Murray School District also suspended the equity books program entirely while the collection is reviewed to ensure none of the other books “may cause concern.”
Kyle Lukoff, the author of Call Me Max, wrote the story with his own childhood in mind and said that it is “always upsetting when people treat transgender children and their friends as problems and controversies, rather than kids who deserve love, support, and understanding.”
We hope that the child who brought the book to school in the first place is receiving that support.