After right-wing backlash, State Farm Insurance discontinued any relationship with a project supporting the acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.
State Farm previously encouraged agents to donate books to Florida schools promoting acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth. As part of a partnership with the LGBTQ+ advocacy group the GenderCool Project, State Farm corporate responsibility analyst Jose Soto stated in an email January 18 that gents across the nation can donate a three-book bundle to local teachers, community centers, or libraries.
But the move came to light following the passage of the controversial "don't say gay" law signed in March by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The emails about the project were leaked to and first published by Will Hild, executive director of Consumers Research.
"We are seeking 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," the email reads. "Along with donating the books, we would encourage the agent to highlight our commitment to diversity on their social media pages.
"This is a fantastic way to give back and an easy project that will help support the LGBTQ+ community and to make the world around us better."
But that generated a wave of criticism from conservative outlets including Consumers Research, National Review, and Breitbart. This gesture of tolerance drew fire from Hild and others.
Hild in a tweet said the emails were shared by employees to "show the company engaged in the woke indoctrination of kids age 5+."
Initially, the company largely pushed back on assertions the company donated any books directly to schools, a move that could run counter to the controversial law. Right-wing outlet The Daily Callercontacted State Farm and was told the program was strictly voluntary.
But now State Farm seems to have folded to pressure completely and will discontinue any relationship with the GenderCool Project.
In a statement to The Advocate a State Farm spokesperson said, "State Farm's support of a philanthropic program, GenderCool, has been the subject of news and customer inquiries. This program that included books about gender identity was intended to promote inclusivity. We support organizations that provide resources for parents to have conversations about gender and identity with their children at home.
"We do not support required curriculum in schools on this topic. As a result, we have made the decision we will no longer be affiliated with the organization. We will continue to explore how we can support our associates, as well as organizations that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, including the LGBTQ+ community. 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."
It's not clear what the company means by that.
The GenderCool Project exists to provide a supportive network for families with transgender and nonbinary children providing info on inclusive school policy, affirming health care, and parent communication.
"It doesn't surprise us that a company decides to work with us and then decides not to work with us because we understand the pressures of our culture," GenderCool co-founder Gearah Goldstein told The Advocate. "We're just grateful that we had the opportunity to work with State Farm to help them move forward."
Books that were to be provided in the bundle included A Kids Book About Being Transgender, A Kids Book About Being Inclusive, and A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary.
Notably, the email predates the passage of Florida's "don't say gay" law, which forbids instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade and requires instruction at other grade levels to be age and developmentally appropriate.