What a difference one day makes!
A Short-Lived Plan
The reaction against the program that led to its termination shows how vulnerable “woke” corporations can be when confronted.
Interestingly, State Farm did not announce the program with the flourishes usually associated with corporate benevolence. The public found out about the initiative because of a leaked email, which became public through Consumers’ Research.
Watch What You Say in Emails!
The email source was Jose Soto, State Farm’s “Corporate Responsibility Analyst.” The date was January 18, 2022. Mr. Soto told State Farm’s agents in Florida that the company would participate in the GenderCool Project.
“The project’s goal is to increase representation of LGBTQ+ books and support our communities in having challenging, important and empowering conversations with children Age 5+.”
Mr. Soto requested that six Florida agents work with him to get the ball rolling. However, he had bigger things in mind.
“Nationwide, approximately 550 State Farm agents and employees will have the opportunity to donate this 3-book bundle to their local teacher, community center or library of their choice…. Along with donating the books, we would encourage the agent to highlight our commitment to diversity on their social media pages.”
Purveyors of “Gender Ideology”
The three-book “bundle” make up “The GenderCool Collection,” found on the Project’s website. The books are A Kids Book About Being Transgender, A Kids Book About Being Inclusive and A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary.
GenderCool is the brainchild of John and Jennifer Grosshandler, parents of four children, one of whom “proudly identifies as transgender.” The parents sought to promote “positive stories about transgender and non-binary kiddos.” In addition to the books, they also work with casting directors to provide actors for advertising, television and film directors “committed to evolving roles that reflect today’s youth.”
Besides State Farm, the organization “collaborates” with some heavy hitters in American economic life, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, The Gap, Intel, Nike and Allstate.
When questioned by the Washington Examiner, State Farm stated that “Participants are not being asked to share with schools,” even though Mr. Soto’s email mentioned teachers. The company then doubled down on its support for its “woke” agenda.
“At State Farm, we are committed to diversity and inclusion; they aren’t just words, they are truly part of how we do business and lead our organization. We recognize and value the diversity of all people, and support a culture of respect and inclusion in the communities in which we live and work, as well as our workplace…. We embrace diversity and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do.”
State Farm is a mutual insurance company, meaning that its policyholders own it.
Policyholder reaction to State Farm’s generosity must have been very intense. The company canceled it only a day after the program leaked to the public.
National Review carried the story titled “State Farm Abandons LGBTQ Children’s-Book Program after Whistleblower Leak.” It quoted Victor Terry, State Farm’s Chief Diversity Officer.
“State Farm’s support of a philanthropic program, GenderCool, has been the subject of news and customer inquiries…. We will no longer support that program.”
Then Mr. Terry made a curious statement that enraged the left.
“Conversations about gender and identity should happen at home with parents.”
Tears on the Left
Indeed, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. The pro-homosexual publication, The Advocate, began its article with, “After right-wing backlash, State Farm Insurance discontinued any relationship with a project supporting the acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.”
The publication asked State Farm for a statement and printed its response.
“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 Advocate was unimpressed. “It’s not clear what the company means by that.”
The ultra-leftist HuffPost saw a connection between State Farm’s decision and the recent Florida law mislabeled “Don’t say gay.”
“Consumers’ Research’s executive director, Will Hild, accused State Farm on Monday of attempting to indoctrinate young kids by providing LGBTQ-inclusive books to young students in Florida, where the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was recently signed into law.”
The HuffPost further made the connection to those opposing the imposition of Critical Race Theory in America’s schools.
“Conservative states such as Utah, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana have either introduced or signed legislation into law banning critical race theory—an academic framework that conservatives have wrongly claimed is being pushed on children—from being taught in public schools.”
A Gigantic Dose of Chagrin
The entire situation is embarrassing for the insurance company, which lost a great deal of credibility on both sides of the ideological divide. The right feels betrayed by the company that entered the program without informing its policyholder owners. The left can never forgive anyone who backs away from its “woke” agenda.
State Farm underwrites over eighty million policies for customers, many of whom are conservative. As countless television commercials attest, those customers have many other options. Many companies stand ready to write policies for those dismayed by State Farm’s social activism.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council drew a homespun analogy to describe State Farm’s situation.
“There’s an old saying that the only things in the middle of the highway are yellow stripes and roadkill. State Farm is finding that out, four days into a raging PR disaster of their own making.” Mr. Perkins continued, “To no one’s surprise but theirs, Americans didn’t respond too kindly when the insurance company was caught dishing out transgender books to five-year-old kids…. But instead of touching the hot stove and backing away, State Farm got burned by another mistake: believing it could please both sides.”
Tragically, State Farm does not regret its alliance with GenderCool, but only the public reaction to it. That’s why it is so important to engage in the culture war. Companies will retreat when forced into the corner. Customers are teaching State Farm the same lesson that the State of Florida handed to Disney. There is a heavy price to pay when companies travel down the “woke” side of the street.
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