Reagan Reese on August 18, 2023

A Georgia school board voted Thursday to fire a teacher who read her fifth-grade students a book on gender identity, according to The Associated Press.

In March, Katie Rinderle, a fifth-grade teacher at Cobb County School District, says she got in trouble for reading her class “My Shadow is Purple,” a picture book about a child who discovers they are neither a girl or a boy, according to the AP. The Cobb County School Board voted 4-3 to fire Rinderle, finding that the teacher had violated the state’s divisive concepts law, which bars educators from giving lessons on race and “espousing personal political beliefs.”

“Introducing the topic of gender identity and gender fluidity into a class of elementary grade students was inappropriate and violated the school district policies,” Sherry Culves, the district’s lawyer, argued, according to the AP.

On Aug. 10, after a two-day hearing, a panel of retired teachers found that Rinderle had violated school district policy, which mirrors the state’s law, though the panel ruled Rinderle did not deserve to be fired, the AP reported. During the hearing, Rinderle argued that the book was appropriate and did not discuss sensitive topics that might violate the school district’s policy.

“The district is sending a harmful message that not all students are worthy of affirmation in being their unapologetic and authentic selves,” Rinderle said in the statement through the Southern Poverty Law Center, who helped represent her. “This decision, based on intentionally vague policies, will result in more teachers self-censoring in fear of not knowing where the invisible line will be drawn.”

Parents, school boards and lawmakers throughout the nation are divided on whether topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation should be addressed in the classroom; in Florida, a school district decided in August to reverse its decision to restrict a children’s book about gay penguins, allowing the literature to appear in its libraries. A Washington school district allegedly gave elementary school kids a sexual education lesson in June that promoted the use of puberty blockers and introduced students to preferred pronouns.

“The Cobb County School District is very serious about the classroom being a neutral place for students to learn,” Culves said at the hearing, according to the AP. “One-sided instruction on political, religious or social beliefs does not belong in our classrooms.

Cobb County School District and the Southern Poverty Law Center did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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