It’s not just books being targeted by conservative, white supremacist groups across the US. It’s also teachers, and for Glen Ellyn, Illinois, third grade teacher Lauren Crowe, sharing the inclusive resources she uses on TikTok has her on administrative leave from the backlash.
Twenty-four year-old Crowe runs the now-private TikTok account @classroomyogi, and at the end of May, she posted a video showcasing the queer- and activist- themed books she has available in her classroom. Among them were Kid Activists, It Feels Good To Be Yourself, and Queer Heroes, and it was not the first nor last of her videos showcasing inclusive books.
A conservative Twitter account found Crowe’s videos and compiled them in early September.
Once the videos were shared in Twitter, the account doxxed the teacher by sharing her personal account, as well as where she was a teacher. The tweet went wide, and Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, as well as Glen Ellyn’s District 41, were inundated with calls and emails calling for her removal from the classroom. Many flooded the school’s Facebook page, calling for an investigation into the teacher.
“District 41 has become aware of social media posts by a staff member that have surfaced overnight,” the district said in a statement to parents. “The district is aware of these posts and is in the midst of an investigation in collaboration with our legal counsel,” Dr. Melissa Kaczhowski, a Superintendent of the school, wrote.
Crowe’s social media, run during her free time, violates no laws.
The groups targeting the teacher call her work “indoctrination,” and others have commented across social media how teachers should be monitored and fired for daring to teach.
“If I ever found out that my third grader was being exposed to gay and trans topics in school…..shit would get real,” reads one comment on YouTube. “Cameras in schools. Cops have them. Teachers should too,” reads another.
Still another Twitter user commented on the threaded videos, “Usually 3rd grade is at 8 or 9 years old. Why would sexuality be important to children that young? History, math, writing should be their main focus in school, not sexual preference and pride,” to which another responded with the current conservative favorite catch-phrase, “it’s called grooming.”
Not everyone was angry about Crowe’s social media posts, nor her work to offer books showcasing Black Lives Matter, youth activism, or LGBTQ+ lives. Parent Jennifer Huard said making these books available, even to third graders, is showcasing what the world really looks like.
“Representation matters. These kids need to see their lives represented in the classroom as well,” she said to NBC. Huard noted that many of those who were commenting on the district’s Facebook page and other social media outlets were not parents at the school, not even local to the area.
Another Glen Ellyn native, Helen Bosacki, commented on the district’s Facebook page that she was surprised these books weren’t already standard in the curriculum.
“All libraries have a tendency to not have enough diverse material,” Bosacki said. “That includes different family structures.”
Other parents in the district suggested seeking out the information of those who disagreed with and caused harm to Crowe, her job, and her students and reporting them to their respective employers.
“Happy to make the call to the company they work for. This is unacceptable,” wrote one commenter. “I think many of us know who these people might be and where they work,” said another.
Sexuality and identity are life-long processes, and children in third grade are at a time when they’re extremely curious. Supplementing curriculum with materials to educate young learners on all aspects of human life is what makes education not only important but a life-long, engaging process.
In Illinois, the state passed a new comprehensive sexual education plan, allowing for more inclusive curriculum and discussion. This law, welcomed by many, has been a catalyst for many to push back against books in schools and libraries. Libraries in the same area as Glen Ellyn — the Chicago suburbs — have faced harassment and challenges over other human sexuality material already this year.
There are few details about Crowe’s leave from the classroom and whether it is voluntary. But the dismissal, whatever the timeline, leaves a significant hole in the educational environment at the school and district more broadly, as moves like this one discourage other educators from sharing material focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Glen Ellyn school board meets on September 20 at 6:30 pm. If you’re local, show up to voice your support of Crowe and the materials she makes available to her students. The meeting is at Hadley Junior High School, 240 Hawthorne Boulevard.
If you’re not local or are unable to attend the meeting, contact information for the school board is as follows: Robert Bruno – firstname.lastname@example.org; Jason Loebach – email@example.com; Jessica Buttimer – firstname.lastname@example.org; Edward “Ted” Estes – email@example.com; Julie Hill – firstname.lastname@example.org; Chris Martelli – email@example.com; and Tayyaba Syed – firstname.lastname@example.org. Email your support for what Crowe and colleagues like her are doing in the classroom, as well as beyond. Social media posts such as hers help other teachers find resources and weave them into the classroom, as well as offer support for why this work matters.
Last, but not least, you can support Lauren Crowe directly through this fundraiser. You can purchase a shirt or simply donate cash to help this young teacher.