(NEW YORK)– A Georgia elementary school teacher has been fired after allegedly violating the state’s educational gag order. Passed in 2022, Georgia’s HB 1084 prohibits teachers from “espousing”  certain “divisive concepts” related to race and sex. Katie Rinderle says she read her fifth grade students “My Shadow Is Purple,” by bestselling author-illustrator Scott Stuart, a 2022 book that promotes inclusivity, after purchasing it at the school book fair and having her students vote on what they wanted to read.

Rinderle, a teacher in Cobb County,  was believed to be the first teacher fired under the state  law.

In response, Jonathan Friedman, PEN America’s director of Free Expression and Education, said: “It is shocking that an educator would be terminated under this vague law for reading students a book and encouraging them to be themselves. Every child deserves to be joyfully represented in their classroom and with their peers, and every educator deserves a space to teach without fear of censure or termination for exercising their professional judgment. That this teacher purchased the book at the school book fair and that it was voted on by her students adds a layer of absurdity to an otherwise horrifying story. Unfortunately the climate for public education continues to be chilled by these harmful decisions to discipline educators for simply doing their jobs.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057