State Farm, the household name insurance company, has launched a program that would enlist hundreds of staff volunteers across the country to distribute LGBTQ-themed books to teachers, community centers, and libraries, explicitly targeting children as young as kindergartners.
In collaboration with the GenderCool Project, State Farm aims to “help diversify classroom, community center and library bookshelves with a collection of books to help bring clarity and understanding to the national conversation about Being Transgender, Inclusive and Non-Binary,” an employee whistleblower email obtained by Consumers’ Research, dated January 18, 2022, reveals.
“The project’s goal is to increase representation of LGBTQ+ books and support out communities in having challenging, important and empowering conversations with children Age 5+,” the email from Jose Soto, State Farm’s Corporate Responsibility Analyst, to all Florida agents reads.
In the message, Soto says that State Farm is recruiting six agents in Florida “that would be interested in participating in this unique project, by receiving these books in March, then donating them to their community by the end of April.”
“Nationwide, approximately 550 State Farm agents and employees will have the opportunity to donate this 3 book bundle to their local teacher, community center or library of their choice,” the email added, confirming that the effort will extend beyond Florida.
“Along with donating the books, we would encourage the agent to highlight our commitment to diversity on their social media pages,” he says.
The three-book bundle is part of the GenderCool Collection. In the book Non-Binary, a character named Gia is introduced to young readers as a transgender girl who uses she/her pronouns. “When you’re born, a doctor looks at you and says, ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ based on your body. But gender isn’t that simple. You see, when I was born, the doctor said, ‘It’s a boy!’ But…this wasn’t true,” Gia narrates.
“Gender is how you feel in your heart and mind, but it may not match what the doctor says when you are born,” it reads.
The GenderCool Project is “a youth-led movement bringing positive change to the world,” according to the website. The organization highlights youth spokespeople who either identify as transgender or don’t conform to gender norms, called the “Champions,” who “are helping replace misinformed opinions with positive experiences meeting transgender and non-binary youth who are thriving.”
Beyond State Farm, GenderCool lists other major American companies as its partners and supporters, including Dell, Intuit, Nike, NBC Universal, Adobe, General Mills, Capital One, Intel, Indeed, HP, VmWare, Bank of America, Bayer, Out & Equal, Sprout Social, Prudential, CBRE, Oracle, USDA, Abbvie, JLL, and All State.
GenderCool engages with corporate partners in “six powerful ways,” the website notes, with speaking events, mentorship programs, DEI/HR consulting, and advising for parents of transgender children. The book distribution initiative was not listed, suggesting it was possibly an original innovation of State Farm.
Consumers’ Research, the nation’s oldest consumer protection agency, is launching an advertisement campaign targeting State Farm for its progressive corporate activism. In a spoof rework of the company’s hallmark slogan, “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is there,” the video ad reads, “Like a Creepy Neighbor…State Farm is there.”
“Participants are not being asked to share with schools,” State Farm said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “At State Farm, we are committed to diversity and inclusion; they aren’t just words, they are truly part of how we do business and lead our organization. We recognize and value the diversity of all people, and support a culture of respect and inclusion in the communities in which we live and work, as well as our workplace. The LGBTQ+ community is a valued part of the communities we serve and are valued members of our workplace.”
“Kindness and respect is expected in all our interactions and extended to everyone we do business with across all segments of society. We embrace diversity and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do. We work with a variety of organizations and causes that express their own unique views, and support civil and open dialogue on challenging topics,” the company said.