A Kansas City, Kansas, USD 500 kindergarten teacher proudly, but anonymously, posted on a social media page that they had read the book Julian is a Mermaid to their class. But efforts to identify the instructor, or to solicit a comment from school officials about the book, have been unsuccessful.
The book, about a young boy infatuated with mermaids to the point of wanting to become one, won the 2019 Stonewall Book Award in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category. The award is co-sponsored by the American Library Association. On the ALA website announcing the award, the book was lauded for its “exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.”
Reviewer Beverly Slapin was equally effusive in her praise:
“Throughout this delightful, life-affirming picture book, young readers will see young Julián growing into the person he was meant to be. Full of love and joy, Julián Is a Mermaid is for all questioning children and children who may not conform to the “norms” of their genders—and for everyone else as well. Julián Is a Mermaid is highly recommended.”
The book is also a recommended selection on the website of the National Education Association.
In the post, the teacher writes:
“I read this book to my students today. It’s about a boy that sees mermaids by the pool and decides he wants to become one. At no point did they (the students) say ‘ewww’ or ‘gross.’ They even said how beautiful he looked at the end. Hate is taught. Teach your kids right”
We reached out to Superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield, Executive Director of Elementary Schools Dr. Amy Washington, and Board of Education President Randy Lopez for comment on the appropriateness of Julian is a Mermaid for five-year-olds. None responded.
We contacted each elementary school principal in the USD 500 system in an effort to identify the anonymous kindergarten teacher and get a comment from the teacher and administrator. The only response came from Collette Chaney, Principal of Welborn Elementary:
“Please reach out to central office”