A Mother's Day lesson planned by a librarian at Alpine Crest Elementary School was canceled after it drew the attention of the local chapter of the conservative organization Moms for Liberty.
The school's librarian sent a note home with students to inform them of the purpose of the lesson and the books she planned to read.
"With Mother's Day approaching, I'd like to highlight this special role, but I am sensitive to the fact that not all students live with a mother," the librarian said in the letter, which was posted on the Moms for Liberty chapter's Facebook page. "As such, I am planning a lesson that celebrates those who fill the motherly roles in our lives."
The letter said the librarian would read aloud to the students in kindergarten through second grade from two books, "Stella Brings the Family" by Miriam B. Schiffer and "Mother Bruce" by Ryan T. Higgins.
The former is about a girl with two fathers, set at a Mother's Day celebration, and the latter is about a male bear that a group of goslings believe is their mother, according to book descriptions on Amazon.
The librarian said in the letter that parents could opt for their children to receive an alternate lesson at another location.
In a statement sent by text to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tonya Dodd, the Moms for Liberty chapter president, said that the librarian's letter frustrated her as a single mom.
"Our family knows what it's like to be a nontraditional family," Dodd said. "I also am not one who is submitting to the mercy of calling men women and women men."
Dodd said the Mother's Day lesson was canceled after people in the community contacted the superintendent, school board, librarian and school administration.
Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Justin Robertson did not respond to emailed questions. A spokesman issued a statement.
"As a school district we are committed to ensuring every student belongs and every community is served," the spokesman, Steve Doremus, said in the statement. "Aligned to those commitments, we have a responsibility to ensure positive, inclusive, caring environments for every child.
"In this instance, as an administration, we chose to put a hold on the planned lesson at Alpine Crest Elementary School as we continue to consider the best ways to serve our students and families. We will continue to review district policy and adjust district procedures. The issue in question here is not the content selected, but the range of content available in the lesson that would have been inclusive to all family models."
Moms for Social Justice, a local organization focused on equity, started a petition on Change.org to have the lesson reinstated that has garnered 500 signatures, organization co-founder Taylor Lyons said.
"We believe all kids deserve to feel seen and valued inside and out," Lyons said by phone, adding that the organization appreciates the librarian's efforts to include children who lack mothers in their lives in the lesson. "The books she put forth are award-winning titles. ...We could find nothing objectionable about them."
Lyons said members of the organization are disappointed by the school district's response to objections about the lesson, and they are encouraging supporters to attend the school board meeting Thursday night.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508.