A Maryland middle school encouraged students to read a book and complete assignments this summer that explored themes of gender transition, sexual identity, and cross-dressing.
Westland Middle School selected Rick by Alex Gino as its summer reading for all new sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students.
According to National Review, the book is about a 12-year-old named Rick who is encouraged to question his sexual orientation and gender identity. Another child undergoes a gender transition, a third kid dances as a drag queen, and Rick's grandfather reveals he likes to crossdress.
After reading the text, students are asked to complete assignments such as answering journal prompts that encourage them to identify their gender and ask, "How do I define gender?" and "What does gender mean to me?"
The school's assignment says students must "choose to create one of the following products": a poster or flag that is inclusive, a proposal for a pro-LGBTQIA event at the school, or a letter advocating for the book's author to speak at the school.
Students were also asked to discuss with a family member or friend questions like, "How am I expected to behave because of my gender?" and "What would a world look like without gender?"
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Sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders were given a "glossary of terms" covering different genders and presented an online game about "gender identity terms" that defines words like trans, genderfluid, asexual, and bisexual.
Westland Middle School, which is a part of Montgomery County Public Schools, selected the book as its "anchor text" with the goal to "continue to raise awareness of the value of our diversity and to take a stand as allies when we see injustice," according to its website.
"We think you will love the exploration of self-expression and exploring your own identity through the eyes of Rick! Gino's book will enable us to explore gender identity, self-expression, friendships, and learn the importance of standing up for one another," the school's website states.
A spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools told CBN News the reading and assignments were optional.
"The book was offered as a summer-only reading option, encouraged but not required," the spokesperson said. "This assignment does not impact students' grades whether they choose to participate or not."
According to NR, other public and private schools and libraries also encouraged students to read the book over the summer, including Roland Park Country School and Howard County Library System in Maryland, and Dover-Sherborn Middle School in Massachusetts.
CBN News has reached out to Westland Middle School's principal and program coordinator for a statement. At the time of publication, no one had responded.
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