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Legislative LGBTQ Caucus criticizes State Farm

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Washington Post

State Farm’s jingle is unmistakable: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Yet when it came to State Farm’s support of a program providing LGBTQ-themed children’s books to teachers and libraries, conservative groups and right-leaning media outlets derided the insurance company as “a creepy neighbor” and accused it of “targeting” children with books about gender identity. […]

Hours after a report about the partnership prompted an online uproar from conservatives, State Farm announced that it was dropping its support of the GenderCool Project, aimed at helping raise awareness around what it means to be transgender, inclusive and nonbinary.

State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson confirmed to The Washington Post on Tuesday that the insurance company had ended its support of GenderCool after it had “been the subject of news and customer inquiries.”

“Conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents,” Gadson said in a statement. “We don’t support required curriculum in schools on this topic. We support organizations providing resources for parents to have these conversations. We no longer support the program allowing for distribution of books in schools.”

* Nothing about this program was “required,” which is the point of Illinois LGBTQ legislators, who criticized the Illinois-based company today…

Statement from Illinois General Assembly LGBTQ Caucus & Equality Illinois:

This week in response to an outcry from a hateful few, Illinois-based insurer State Farm dropped their support for The GenderCool Project, which provides LGBTQ-affirming books to schools across the country on a voluntary basis. We are disappointed State Farm chose to make a knee- jerk concession to bigotry rather than stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ community and our allies who support inclusion. Given the rise of hate crimes and discrimination, decisions like this embolden those peddling hatred and make our society a more dangerous place.

While other states push intolerance and try to roll back the clock on our hard-fought rights, Illinois has been a champion in affirming the dignity our LGBTQ community. We have taken active steps to ensure Illinois schools teach students about the struggles and history of the LGBTQ community, as well as Black history and the history of communities of color broadly. In fact, Illinois recently became the first state to mandate teaching Asian American history.

State Farm promotes itself as ’standing in collaboration with LGBTQ organizations’ to ‘ensure all communities are valued and treated with respect and dignity.’ This latest action to rescind support for GenderCool and the teaching of gender identity to families that want it is in direct contradiction to State Farm’s purported values. Unless State Farm reverses its course of action, we will be compelled to call out State Farm’s hypocrisy, including, but not limited to, any LGBTQ marketing State Farm plans on doing during Pride month.

    Senator Mike Simmons
    Majority Leader Greg Harris
    Representative Kelly Cassidy
    Representative Lamont Robinson
    Representative Sam Yingling
    Brian Johnson, CEO, Equality Illinois

       

21 Comments
  1. - The Real Downstate - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:17 pm:

    State Farm is abandoning their commitment to advocating for inclusion as a part of education. Like a bad neighbor, State Farm isn’t there any longer.


  2. - Norseman - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:18 pm:

    I went from proud of State Farm to anger in two days. I don’t think companies should be forced to support programs, but once they do they need to stick it out.

    Unless management is laced with stupid folks, they should have known what the reaction would be. If they weren’t prepared to deal with it, then they should have never got involved. Their flip flop is terrible.


  3. - Commissar Gritty - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:22 pm:

    Going to talk to my wife tonight about switching off of their plans, and I’ll let my agent know this was why. We should not be ceding ground to religious bigotry. If I wanted to support that I’d go live in Florida with the rest of the Ya’llqueda.


  4. - don the legend - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:30 pm:

    ==“We don’t support required curriculum in schools on this topic.==

    Since it is not “required”, the State Farm spokesman is lying.


  5. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:30 pm:

    What is “calling out their hypocrisy” going to do other than make them even more hesitant to express support for LGBTQ causes in the future?

    It’s unfortunate that matters of personal/sexual/gender identity are so politically polarized that you must be 100% pure one way or the other on every single issue under the LGBTQ umbrella.

    I am generally supportive of LGBTQ rights, support gay marriage and adoption both legally and within my church, oppose LGBTQ hiring discrimination in hiring, strongly oppose anti-gay legislation in red states, etc… but if I stray from being 100% with the activists on every hot button issue, am I going to get thrown away as a bigot, too?

    It’s just so alienating.


  6. - Proud Papa Bear - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:35 pm:

    Just contacted my agent to set up a meeting. He’s about to get an earful.


  7. - City Zen - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:53 pm:

    ==but if I stray from being 100% with the activists on every hot button issue, am I going to get thrown away as a bigot, too?==

    Feature, not a bug.


  8. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 3:29 pm:

    Bad move by the Good Neighbor.
    But why take it out on the insurance agents? This decision was way above their collective paygrades.
    That’s like yelling at the bank teller because Citibank does business with Russia.


  9. - /s - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 3:30 pm:

    ==you must be 100% pure==

    They dropped support for a program providing books to children about being inclusive. This isn’t about being 100% with activists. This is about siding with a vocal minority who think LGBTQ+ folks want to ‘groom’ and ‘indoctrinate’ children.

    As far as being called a bigot goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…


  10. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    “What is ‘calling out their hypocrisy’ going to do other than make them even more hesitant to express support for LGBTQ causes in the future?”

    Make them more hesitant about being hypocritical in the future.

    Kinda obvious if you think about it.

    – MrJM


  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 3:40 pm:

    I abandoned State Farm years ago when their then CEO said music and art had no place in school, that these programs were the responsibility of parents, not public schools. Heard him say it with my own ears.


  12. - n-t-c2 - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 3:50 pm:

    ===But why take it out on the insurance agents?===

    Because exactly zero personnel at the company with decisionmaking authority will take an invidiual customer’s call, but salespersons do have access to management.


  13. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 4:00 pm:

    “What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?”

    Jake: “Khakis. Manly, biological men’s only khakis.” /s


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 5:17 pm:

    As a former SF employee, they have been dedicated to the LGBTQ community for years and years. Before it became a “thing” to do. More than twenty years ago, they celebrated PRIDE month and educated employees.

    The problem today is that companies cannot win with either side.


  15. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 7:56 pm:

    Yeah, I’ve been a devoted State Farm customer since I got my first car, but I am going to call my agent to express my unhappiness, and get some quotes from other companies. This is unacceptable.


  16. - Alibrix - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 8:53 pm:

    == Make them more hesitant about being [straw man] in the future.==

    Yes! Passive aggressive bullying. You’re doing great!


  17. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 9:32 pm:

    @/s - The books were not just about the general notion of being inclusive. They specifically discussed the concepts of transgenderism and non-binary identity and were marketed at an audience of 5+.

    What world do you live in that you don’t think books about transgenderism or non-binary identity could be the slightest bit controversial for kids as young as 5 years old?

    If there is no difference in your world between the wackos or bad faith right-wingers who accuse the LGBTQ community of being groomers and people who are simply just not sure about the idea of their 5-year-old kids being expected to absorb complicated and novel gender concepts like “non-binary” then I don’t know what to tell you other than you will probably not like the political outcomes of assigning all people not 100% percent in agreement with you on this issue into the bigot column.


  18. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 10:22 pm:

    ===What world do you live in that you don’t think books about transgenderism or non-binary identity could be the slightest bit controversial for kids as young as 5 years old?===

    What world do you live in where your 5-year-old doesn’t know enby people? My kindergartener is absolutely aware that people can choose a different gender than they were born with, and she absolutely knows non-binary people. It’s honestly not complicated for her. She will clearly explain it to you as, “Some people are born with boy parts, but they feel like they’d rather be girls, so they pick girl names and wear the clothes they like. There’s no such thing as boy clothes and girl clothes, but some people think there are.” Some of mom’s friends are non-binary (”enby”) and she’s totally unphased by calling them “they.” She knows they don’t feel really like boys OR girls, and she thinks they should be able to feel however they want, and isn’t bothered by using “they.” Generally she calls people by the pronouns they look like to her (she’s 5, that’s normal), but if she isn’t sure, she’ll ask, “Are you a boy or girl or neither?” And if she says “she” about one of my friends, and my friend says, “I use they/them pronouns,” my daughter is like, “Sorry, they …” and thinks nothing of it. It’s just regular normal life.

    My 10-year-old told me, after sex ed, “We learned about sexuality today, and I’m pretty sure I’m straight, but I’m going to wait until I actually like somebody to decide for sure. And I can change my mind later, sometimes it’s hard to know.” I was like, “awesome, keep us updated as your thoughts evolve.”

    Honestly I’m super-glad we live in a school district that teaches our kids plainly and clearly about sex, gender, and sexuality, in age-appropriate ways. And I’m glad my kids are so shruggo about how other people choose to define their genders and sexualities; they understand it’s complicated and sometimes evolving, and they want to use the names and pronouns people prefer, and recognize their chosen relationships. That’s really not hard (banned punctuation). To them, it’s no different from calling someone the nickname they prefer.

    Like honestly, if you think someone being non-binary is a complicated and novel concept for a kindergartener, you’re living your life wrong. It’s not complicated or novel at all; kindergarteners totally get it.


  19. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 10:37 pm:

    My 10-year-old came home from school one day and told us, “Joey is thinking of using they/them pronouns and has started wearing nail polish, but he’s a little afraid people will make fun of him if he starts doing ‘girl things,’ so a bunch of us decided at recess we want to wear nail polish too, so Joey knows it’s okay whatever he decides — so can I wear nail polish?” And I was just like, “absolutely, what color?” Went to Walgreens, got the color, manicured my very boyish boy. Almost every boy in the 5th grade wore nail polish for the next two weeks, so Joey would know they were on his team.

    Joey is still using he/him pronouns right now, but dressing in more feminine clothes, and almost all the 5th-grade boys wearing nail polish made him feel a lot more comfortable with choosing his presentation. A few of the boys were like “nail polish is amazing” and now wear it all the time. My kid was like “I think I want to wear it at Halloween and Christmas, but not every day.” (Why those two holidays? No idea. I guess it’s cool for Halloween and festive for Christmas?)

    None of this hurt or confused anyone. It’s colorful paint for fingernails, it has no marked gender on it. The boys all knew it was typically a “girl” thing, which is what made it powerful when they all wore nailpolish to support Joey. But they were basically all like, “it’s super-dumb that colorful fingernails is a girl thing, this does not seem to have anything to do with body parts other than fingernails.” THE WORLD KEPT SPINNING, nobody was hurt, Joey’s life was improved by having the support of his friends.

    Why on earth would you be against that?


  20. - Proud Papa Bear - Friday, May 27, 22 @ 7:19 am:

    “and were marketed at an audience of 5+.”
    Many trans kids know they’re trans as soon as they understand what gender is, like two or three. Unfortunately, many have unaccepting parents who tell them they’re wrong for being themselves and kids without representation think they’re the only ones in the world who feel that way.
    Ever read the stats on suicide rates among the trans population?


  21. - Phineas Gurley - Friday, May 27, 22 @ 8:32 am:

    Just shredded the combined auto/home quote they sent me Good riddance good neighbor


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