Assistant Principal fired for reading children's book about butts to children

I Need a New Butt is a 2012 children's book by Dawn McMillan, drawn by Ross Kinnaird, in which a child believes his butt is broken, and goes about trying to find a new butt without a crack.

A young boy suddenly notices a big problem — his butt has a huge crack! So he sets off to find a new one. Will he choose an armor-plated butt? A rocket butt? A robot butt? Find out in this quirky tale of a tail, which features hilarious rhymes and delightful illustrations. Children and parents will love this book — no ifs, ands, or butts about it!

Sounds innocent enough, right? Not so, according to the administrators in Mississippi's Hinds County School District.

As the New York Times, Toby Price, a 46-year old assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary School, read the book to a group of second graders over Zoom … and lost his job because of it.

Later that day, on March 2, the district superintendent, Delesicia Martin, called him into her office and told him he was on administrative leave, Mr. Price said. He was fired two days later, accused of violating the standards of conduct section of the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics.

In a letter to Mr. Price, the superintendent called the book "inappropriate." She particularly took issue with the references to farting in the story and how "the book described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof)." Ms. Martin called Mr. Price "unprofessional" for having selected the book.

Conservative lawmakers across the country have been feverishly pursuing homophobic and transphobic legislation that censors and controls education curriculums under the auspices of "protecting" young children from things like acknowledging or that they live with any other sort of parental guardianship other than a legally married heterosexual couple — or, apparently, acknowledging that they have butts. While the Mississippi legislature has so far failed to pass any of these laws, it has not stopped them from trying, with things like this from MS SB2111:

An Act To Create The Transgender 21 Act; To Prohibit The State, Its Agents, And Political Subdivision From Infringing On A Parent's Right To Withhold Consent For Any Treatment, Activity Or Mental Health Care Services That Are Designed And Intended To Form Their Child's Conceptions Of Sex And Gender Or To Treat Gender Dysphoria Or Gender Nonconformity; To Prohibit Certain Medical Procedures From Being Performed Upon A Minor; To Provide A Penalty For Any Medical Profession Who Performs Certain Medical Procedures Upon A Minor; To Provide A Good-faith Exception For A Minor Born With A Medically Verifiable Genetic Disorder Of Sexual Development; To Prohibit Any State Agency, Political Subdivision Or Licensing Organization From Forbidding, Penalizing Or Taking Adverse Action Against An Individual Who Gives Or Receives Counsel, Advice, Guidance Or Other Speech Or Communication Consistent With Conscience Or Religious Belief; To Provide That No Individual Shall Be Discriminated Against For Providing Information About A Violation Of This Act To Certain Authorities; To Provide A Private Cause Of Action For Violations Of This Act; To Preempt Political Subdivisions From Promulgating Rules Or Regulations That Limits The Professional Conduct And Judgment Of A Mental Health Care Professional Or Counselor; To Provide That The Provisions Of This Act Are Severable; And For Related Purposes.

Clearly, "acknowledging that children have butts and that it's normal to have a crack in your butt" would be a violation of such a thing.

This shameful spree of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation was always going to lead to grossly absurd circumstances — but the firing of Mr. Price is not the kind of absurdity I expected.

An Educator Read 'I Need a New Butt!' to Children. Then He Was Fired. [Maria Cramer and Isabella Grullón Paz / The New York Times]

Full disclosure: I also write for Wirecutter, which is part of the New York Times Compay, which also publishes The New York Times.

Further disclosure: both my sister and my sister-in-law are education administrators, and are months away from becoming parents themselves. While the state they live in is very unlikely to pass any of these sorts of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, it makes my fucking blood boil just to think that my nephew would not be allowed to recognize his moms in school, and that they would be expected to enforce such a policy. Absolutely fucking shameful.