Pastor accuses school board of 'child abuse' for allowing pro-trans book to be read to children

Pastor Shane Idleman discusses healthy eating, weight, and ministry at Westside Christian Fellowship church, Leona Valley, California, on January 2, 2017.
Pastor Shane Idleman discusses healthy eating, weight, and ministry at Westside Christian Fellowship church, Leona Valley, California, on January 2, 2017. | Vimeo/Westside Christian Fellowship/Shane Idlemann)

A California pastor recently derided a local school board, claiming it enables "child abuse" by allowing a school in the district to read a book promoting LGBT ideology to small children. 

Pastor Shane Idleman of the Westside Christian Fellowship in Leona Valley made remarks at the Westside Union School District Board meeting in nearby Palmdale on Feb. 21. His comments came after an elementary school in the district read a book to students titled Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope.

Idleman kicked off his remarks by highlighting his background as a pastor, saying he has "wept with homosexuals" as part of his ministry.

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"When we speak the truth and love, it's not hate speech, it's love," he insisted.

"When it comes to you in positions of leadership, you are responsible for this. ... Just because something is legal, doesn't mean it's lawful. Somebody on the board can stand up to the state of California and say, 'Listen, this is not right.' ... You can oppose what California is pushing. I don't think it's parental consent. I think it shouldn't even be allowed in schools. What this is is actually a form of child abuse."

"This book, what you are allowing in the schools, is a form of child abuse," he reiterated. 

"It's mental, emotional child abuse," he added. "This is not good for children. I counsel kids, we've buried kids with fentanyl overdoses, heroin overdoses, cutting themselves and you won't take that pain away because they need hope, not capitulation."

Idleman suggested that by promoting the book to young children, specifically children with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, the school district was "giving in to something that will not help them." He urged the board "to consider not only this book but the future direction of this school district" and "what are we actually teaching our kids."

"Is it something that's going to help them or hurt them?" he asked. "This is a very strong topic, very strong topic what we're dealing with here with our kids and it demands a very strong challenge, a very strong rebuke and that's why I'm here."

Idleman stressed that "we support our leaders."

"I know it's a hard job, trust me, I've got a lot of enemies myself," he said. At the same time, he warned, "you are going to be accountable for what you allow into our schools and somebody needs to stand up and say, 'this is not right, we cannot allow this.'"

The pastor acknowledged that coming out against the promotion of LGBT books in schools "might cost you friends." But he maintained that any social pushback is worth it.

"Times change. Truth does not," he said. "We need men and women to stand up and begin speaking the truth in love."

"I love all these groups here," he continued. "I truly do. But I can speak the truth and say, 'this is not right.' When did love speech become hate speech?" 

After Idleman concluded, a sizable portion of the crowd behind him erupted into cheers and applause.

Idleman elaborated on the atmosphere at the school board meeting in a Feb. 22 tweet.

"The room was at full capacity — around 300 people — half were there to support LGBTQ curriculum in our elementary schools. A lot of taunting and people yelling out — the board had to silence the crowd at least a dozen times."

Idleman summarized what inspired him to speak in an op-ed for The Stream.

"My local authorities, Westside Union School District, appeared to sneak a book under the radar by [Jodie] Patterson titled, A Boy Named Penelope." 

"The book promotes mental and emotional child abuse by declaring that girls can become boys. The character in the book is only five years old. Unbelievable. Believe it," he added. "This book was read in classrooms at [Gregg Anderson Academy] without parental consent."

Information about the board meeting compiled on the school district's website reveals that a discussion ensued at the meeting about the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Representative (FAIR) Education Act. Westside Union Teachers' Association First Vice President Erin McCasland outlined the contents of a fact sheet about the measure, signed into law in 2011. 

"In schools where the contributions of the LGBTQ community are included in educational instruction, bullying declined by over half, and LGBTQ students were more likely to feel they have an opportunity to make positive contributions at school," she asserted.

"One of the provisions of the FAIR Act is for schools to adopt textbooks and instructional materials that accurately portray the following groups in the history of California, the United States as well as contemporary society: both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, [LGBT] Americans, [and] persons with disabilities," stated McCasland, 

"Westside Union Teachers' Association (WUTA) fully supports our teachers as they fulfill the FAIR Act within California's History-Social Science Framework. We know through the studies done, including one by the California Safe Schools Coalition, that the inclusion of LGBT individuals (as well as individuals in other groups mentioned) in the instructional materials is linked to greater student safety. Through our teaching, we hope to have all students see themselves in a positive way in their school, community, state, country, and world."

McCasland did not mention Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope in her speech. The Amazon profile of the book reads, "Penelope knows that he's a boy. (And a ninja.) The problem is getting everyone else to realize it."

Patterson, the chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board, wrote the book based on the real-life experiences of her trans-identified daughter. It is a picture book spanning 40 pages targeted at children between the ages of 4 and 8. 

Idleman's appearance before the Westside Union School Board comes as parents and community members across the United States have descended on school board meetings to object to the inclusion of LGBT ideology in books available for checkout in school libraries as well as in the curriculum itself.

At the same time, several states have restricted or banned sex change operations for youth with gender dysphoria due to concerns about their long-term impacts: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, Mississippi and Utah

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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