Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Nominee Touts Transgender Book

An Oklahoma Teacher of the Year nominee, Bristow Middle School teacher Lauren Vandever, has declared that it is important to be supportive of children exploring transgender transition.

“I am not transgender. I’ve never experienced being transgender or on the LGBTQ spectrum,” Vandever said. “But I definitely think it is something that is an important thing for kids to—if that’s something you’re exploring—for me to be accepting of that.”

Vandever, the seventh grade reading teacher at Bristow Middle School, made those comments as part of a three-minute online book review of Zenobia July, a book with a transgender protagonist. Vandever described the review as part of a “realistic fiction book talk session” that focused on “identity and finding your identity.”

“Zenobia used to present, or was born, male, but is transgender and feels—not feels—knows on the inside that she is actually female,” Vandever said. “She’s a girl. And when she lived with her dad, she was not allowed to present as female, but now that she lives with her two aunts that are lesbians, she presents as a female and she’s learning how to do that.”

The Gender Inclusive Classrooms website says Zenobia July is meant for students ages eight to 12. The Gender Inclusive Classrooms review states that Zenobia was originally “raised in a conservative, southern, religious household,” but following her parents’ death moves in with two lesbian aunts, making Zenobia’s transition “twofold: she grapples daily with both her gender transition to a girl, as well as her shift into a socially and politically liberal household.”

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