A third-grade teacher in Marysville Exempted Village School District is being investigated concerning books Edgewood Elementary teacher Austin Syar ordered for his incoming class of 3rd graders. The books feature issues of gender identity, cross-dressing and gender roles. According to State Senate Candidate Melissa Ackison, the titles include Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity and I Am Jazz.
The Columbia Dispatch reported Thursday the school is investigating Syar not because of the complaints they have received about the content of the books, but because the teacher failed to follow proper protocol – he did not get permission from his principal before ordering the books. It’s an issue of financial accountability according to district policy.
The Marysville School District is in Ackison’s back yard. Ackison and the conservative group Ohio Value Voters discovered and exposed to the public the fact that adults had encouraged a nine-year-old to dress in drag and dance in a Lancaster bar earlier this year. The incident prompted the introduction of House Bill 180 by then State Representative now State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster).
Austin Syar was unwilling to comment to the Dispatch about the situation, but he openly promoted Pride Month on his twitter page, showcasing his time spent with young children at the Marysville library where he, “read and talked about PRIDE and equality for all people…along with finding just the right books and starting the summer reading program.”
Thanks to those kiddos that came to hang with me at the @Marysvillelib today! We read and talked about PRIDE ❤💛💚💙💜 and equality for all people today, along with finding just right books and starting the summer reading program. #MakeItHappen @Edgewood_ES #PrideMonth2019 pic.twitter.com/XVHSMurywY
— Austin Syar (@SyarAustin) June 5, 2019
LGBT issues have been front page news in central Ohio as local residents, state groups, national organizations and even the Speaker of the Ohio House exposed a Drag 101 class and a related event scheduled at county libraries for June Pride month. Both events were cancelled and moved to private locations. The opposition by gay activists has been fierce.
Now the issue is heating up Marysville. One resident, Trevor Raymond, commented on the Dispatch’s Facebook page, “Good to see that Sue Devine [Marysville School Board President] is standing behind the teacher. I’m a resident of Marysville and this is another example of a mindset that is holding the city back. Too many here are stuck in the past and are focused on keeping the city stuck in their vision – white, heterosexual and staunchly right wing. City and political leaders must be open to changing times and mores or get left behind. Times are changing and the city must get on board.”
Raymond was referencing Devine’s comments to the paper. It said “Sue Devine, school board president, said she understands why people are concerned. She has been assured that the materials are not curriculum-based, and merely available if a child or parent seeks them out. ‘I don’t fault the teacher for being proactive,’ Devine said. ‘I think that with the right guidance, I don’t see a problem with these resources being available’.”
In addition to supporters of the teacher and the books, there was push back. “Stop exposing children to sex! Especially exposing them to abnormal sex! Totally inappropriate! How far will you people go?” Debbie Barrett Stevens asked on the same Facebook post. “We already have a problem with pornography and human trafficking. When will this sickness stop? Praying for an end to this and a return to safe interactions and relationships with children.”
– – –