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State Farm drops support of a program that promotes LGBTQ education for children

State Farm corporate offices
Emily Bollinger
State Farm has ended its partnership with a nonprofit that promotes LGBTQ education for children.

State Farm has ended its partnership with a nonprofit organization that promotes LGBTQ education for children.

The Bloomington-based insurer dropped its support of Chicago-based GenderCool after receiving backlash.

GenderCool executive director Jen Grosshandler said the group worked with State Farm about a year ago to provide books about gender equity for children ages 5 and up that State Farm agents and employees could distribute to teachers, libraries and community centers across the country.

Soon after media reports surfaced about the program, State Farm canceled the partnership.

The nonprofit Consumers' Research launched its own campaign entitled "Like a Creepy Neighbor," modifying the company's slogan in a way to mock the insurer for its association with GenderCool.

Jen Grosshandler
Jen Grosshandler

“They made the decision that was the right decision for them to conclude our partnership,” Grosshandler said regarding the company’s decision. She added that all the attention that resulted from State Farm’s decision has been good for fundraising and has sparked a conversation they want to have about gender identity.

“There have been so many people and so many different partners, perspectives and current corporate partners who have reached out to us with the most extraordinary words of support,” Grosshandler said.

GenderCool lists 22 corporations on its websitethat its calls partners and supporters, including Nike, NBC Universal, Indeed and insurance companies Allstate and Prudential.

Grosshandler said many corporations are taking time to better understand the next generation’s workforce, as one in five Gen Z adults identity as LGBTQ.

State Farm said in a statement it supports organizations that provide resources for parents to have conversations about gender and identity with their children at home, but “we do not support required curriculum in schools on this topic.

“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,” the statement added.

Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation named State Farm one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality.

GenderCool’s story

Grosshandler, who has a 16-year-old transgender daughter, said she helped create GenderCool about five years ago after meeting so many transgender and nonbinary children who she described as cool, interesting, successful and relatable. She said she wanted to provide a venue for those children to share their stories.

“But when I went to look for this information anywhere, online, offline, I couldn’t find their stories,” she said. “Instead I found an onslaught of negative, inaccurate, oftentimes sensational information about these young people."

Grosshandler said she’s troubled that so many people have formed negative opinions of people who identity as transgender when a majority of Americans surveyed said they have never met someone who is transgender.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.