Alex Gino, author of “George” talks about how the book was marketed so that a wider audience would be exposed to its content. Click the image above to watch the interview.

Editor’s note: The following article details the ongoing two-year bureaucratic saga that an Anchorage family has faced in unsuccessfully imploring the Anchorage School District to stop reading a book about transgenderism to elementary age students.

It’s been nearly two years since Anchorage father Joshua Lewis learned that his daughter’s sixth-grade teacher at Lake Otis Elementary was reading a book about transgenderism, genital mutilation and cross-sex hormones to their 12-year-old daughter and her classmates. The book features a boy named George who thinks he is a girl.

In one of several passages that introduce children to transgenderism, the book states:

“A boy could become a girl. She [George] had since read on the Internet that you could take girl hormones that would change your body, and you could get a bunch of different surgeries if you wanted them… This was called transitioning. You could even start before you were eighteen with pills called androgen blockers that stopped the boy hormones already inside you, from turning your body into a man’s.”

After hearing about the disturbing book from his daughter, Joshua and his wife embarked on a bureaucratically tangled and thus-far unsuccessful mission to remove the book from Anchorage schools. Lewis began by sending an email to his daughter’s teacher Marisa Latico, Lake Otis Elementary School Principal Lynn Mayberry-Burke, school counselor Shelly Atkinson and Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop.

The book, “George,” by Alex Gino was read aloud by the teacher as part of academic instruction with no prior warning to parents.

Sixth-grade teacher Marisa Latico poses with students at Lake Otis Elementary School in Anchorage.

In a long chain of emails to various Anchorage educators and administrators, which has been obtained by the Watchman, the Lewis began by noting that he and his wife were never provided any advanced warning that the book would be read in class.

In the initial email, Lewis said did “not consent in any way to my child being read this material,” especially without prior notification.

“As parents, we are given the option to opt out of health class,” Lewis added. “It is unconscionable to me that the controversial subject matter of this book would be something that you would think was not necessary to bring to parents’ attention.”

He noted that the book contained the following objectionable material.

-Two references to child hormone therapy (46-47, 104-105)

-Two references to gender reassignment surgery (46-47, 141)

-Deleting web browser search history (105)

-Prolific self-loathing (throughout)

-Confusing use of pronouns (throughout)

Lewis said his daughter said she was “uncomfortable and confused” by the book and does not want to discuss the subject matter.

“I understand this book is supposed to dramatize the struggles of real people, and it is heartbreaking that any child should feel as George does in this book. If the book had been about acceptance, tolerance, kindness, or been intended as an anti-bullying measure, my response may have been different,” Lewis wrote. “That is not the aim of this book. This book is aimed at promulgating a specific set of values and was read to my child, as well as others, with no regard to the personal, social, or religious beliefs of the children and/or their parents/guardians.”

Lewis said he had a “tough time seeing something other than an activist elementary teacher intent on disseminating her values to her students.”

He added: “I am deeply offended by the fact that we are in a situation that cannot be undone. The conversations that I and other parents will have to have with our children, who may have never given a thought to their gender identity, much less hormone and surgical solutions to a problem that by all empirical evidence the vast majority of children grow out of… these conversations are not ones that should be had with a twelve-year-old.”

When the initial email was sent, the Lake Otis Elementary class was about two-thirds of the way through the book. Lewis said he wanted his daughter removed from the remaining readings, and asked the school to alert all other parents of the book as well.

Lake Otis Elementary Principal Lynn Mayberry-Burke

“Please be assured that my focus is intently on the safety and security, mental and otherwise, of my child and the others,” Lewis emphasized. “I am distraught at the thought of previous years’ students being exposed to this material and not having the open line of communication that I have with my daughter.”

Teacher Latico responded on Jan. 21, 2020, thanking Lewis for his email and assuring him that she would respond.

Later that day Principal Mayberry-Burke reiterated that the school would be in touch soon.

Three days later Principal Mayberry-Burke told Lewis that she had spoken with the teacher, Ms. Latico and informed him that “George” was part of a larger book study focused on “anti-bullying” themes, which support the school’s learning standards, including social-emotional learning standards (SEL).

“Part of our SEL standards address social awareness, which involves developing empathy and taking the perspective of others,” the principal wrote. “Ms. Latico has also connected the novels to our 6th grade Social Studies Human Rights unit for the 3rd quarter. The selected novels share the perspectives of people included on the list of protected classes of the Anchorage School Board Anti-Discrimination Statement.”

Mayberry-Burke went on to defend the novel, saying it was approved by the district. That said, she noted that the book would be granted “additional review given the sensitive topic,” and that it would not be read during the review process.

Moving forward, the principal said Ms. Latico would share with families the themes and book titles she planned to read to children.

The principal also said Lewis could remove his daughter from the readings and discussions and have her placed in an “alternate learning activity.”

Click the above image to view a partial reading of the book “George” by from the Portland Public Library in Portland, Maine.

But Principal Mayberry-Burke was also quick to defend her teacher, saying she is a “master teacher and thoughtful practitioner” who is “careful to present the topic in an unprejudiced and neutral manner.”

Lewis emailed Mayberry-Burke, clarifying that he was not opposed to transgender people as such, but that the book was about much more than tolerance or anti-bullying.

“I’m having trouble understanding how it supports an anti-bullying theme, as there is actually very little bullying, and the most egregious act in the book was instigated by George,” Lewis wrote.

He added that the book did not seem to fit with the school district’s policy of allowing students to “draw their own conclusions” nor did it “respect the perspectives of others,” provide any opposing viewpoints or teach children to “discriminate between fact and fiction.”

He observed that there is considerable controversy, even among parents with children who identify as transgender – regarding the use of hormones to sexually transition children. Additionally, Lewis maintained that such discussions in a classroom are “patently wrong as it then places the burden of discussion on parents who never consented to this material.”

In a Jan. 29, 2020, response, Principal Mayberry-Burke thanked Lewis for his “feedback” and relayed that the book was being reviewed by “our Teaching and Learning Senior Director as well as our Libraries Department.”

In his formal objection to the book, Lewis raised multiple concerns, including the fact that “George” introduces young children to genital mutilation

After failing to hear of a final decision, Lewis followed up on the matter in March 2022 email to Principal Mayberry-Burke to find out whether the book was still being read to Anchorage students, and what avenues parents have to challenge objectionable volumes such as “George.”

On April 5 of this year, the principal wrote to inform Lewis that, due to the pandemic, his complaint was lost in the shuffle. She also forwarded the official school board policy about how to challenge what she called, “materials of concern.”

The next day, Lewis said he would be submitting an official challenge to the book.

In his formal objection to the book, Lewis raise multiple concerns, including the fact that “George” introduces young children to genital mutilation with a passage on page 141 in which there is reference to a child cutting off their penis with a scissor gesture to the groin area.

A little more than a month later, on May 20, Lewis received an email from Jennifer Knutson, the Anchorage School District’s director of teaching and learning informing them that the district’s Controversial Concerns Committee met on May 4 and unanimously decided that the book should be allowed in all school libraries and classrooms, and that it may be used for instructional purposes.

In justifying its decision, the committee report stated it had determined that “George” was an award-winning novel that positively features transgender characters and helps students sympathize with transgender peers.

“The main character is 10, and professional reviews recommend the title starting at 4th grade,” the committee wrote. “The committee agreed with professional reviews that references to hormone therapy and gender reassignment are dealt with in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.”

To introduce a person – who can neither enter into a contract nor consent to sexual relations – to irreversible medical procedures does irreparable damage.”

Lewis wrote back on May 25, expressing his disappointment.

“The idea that I, as a parent, would not be informed by my local school district’s administration that they have determined to have an age-appropriate means of introducing children in the fourth grade to the notion of taking scissors to one’s own penis is among the most absurd things I could have fathomed,” he said. “If my child had a deep desire to rid themselves of an arm, or a leg, or a finger, they would be kindly and carefully counseled. It is obscene that level of care would be denied to a student facing the very real and serious issue George faces. To introduce a person – who can neither enter into a contract nor consent to sexual relations – to irreversible medical procedures does irreparable damage.”

Lewis said the committee failed to address his actual complaints and had instead simply deferred to so-called “professional” opinions.

“I am given the distinct impression this committee is simply a formality and bureaucratic hurdle for parents concerned about their children’s school environment,” he wrote. “This committee’s decision has not complied with one sentence of Board Policy 6144.”

In particular, Lewis observed that the reading of “George” seemed to violate the board’s policy prohibiting teachers from using their “position or influence on students to forward their own religious, political, economic or social views.”

Lewis raised concerns that reading “George” to students might violate state statutes that guarantee a parent’s primary role in the education of their children.

“This book smuggles controversial and permanently damaging medical procedures that aren’t even desirable for a significant portion, if not a majority of trans identifying individuals,” he added. “The unanimous decision by this committee to overlook the dangerous nature and obvious absurdity of this situation should be a testament to the radically ideologically driven nature of this institution. By acting in such an egregious manner, it not only does a disservice to every child in the district, but is tantamount to institutionalized child abuse.”

Knutson wrote a short email on May 27, saying the district would process Lewis’ appeal of the committee’s decision.

On July 20, Lewis emailed to the school district’s Deputy Superintendent Mark Stock, noting that he did not have confidence that his challenge was being properly treated in accordance with the district’s review process.

Lewis also raised concerns that reading “George” to students might violate state statutes that guarantee a parent’s primary role in the education of their children. In particular, he noted that Alaska Statute 14.03.016 states that a local school board “must include procedures providing for parent notification not less than two weeks before any activity, class, or program that includes content involving human reproduction or sexual matters is provided to a child.”

He also highlighted that Alaska Statute (AS 14.30.361) explicitly requires that “before curriculum, literature, or materials related to sex education, human reproduction education, or human sexuality education may be used in a class or program or distributed in a school, the curriculum, literature, or materials must be available for parents to review.”

While these statues apply specifically to sex-ed classes, Lewis observed that the book, “George” is “absolutely regarding human sexuality/sexual matters.”

He added: “there may be other materials and/or educators who take it upon themselves to present inappropriate information in a setting meant to conceal it (such as my daughter was). It’s not reasonable for me to scour the school libraries for such material and so it is incumbent upon classroom educators to follow the statutes and inform parents when they intend on going over content such as this, two weeks in advance.”

On July 22, Stock responded with an email, admitting that while state statute appears to address sex-ed classes specifically, “it might apply in cases where a teacher took the book from the library and read it to the class as some activity related to classroom instruction on the topic.”

This is a developing story.


— To contact Lake Otis Elementary Principal Lynn Mayberry-Burke, call (907) 742-7400 or email

— To contact Lake Otis Elementary School 6th grade teacher Marisa Latico, call (907) 742-7162 or email

— To contact Anchorage School District Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt, click here.

— To contact the Anchorage School Board, click here.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Anchorage educators defend reading book about cross-sex drugs, trans-surgery to 4th graders

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Kris says:

    Wow. When I was in school my teachers read Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe, James and the Giant Peach, and Tom Sawyer.

  • Tamra Nygaard says:

    So the next stop, I’m sure, is books about becoming a cat, or perhaps having sex between kids and teachers, and I’m equally sure those topics will be addressed in a sensitive and thoughtful manner so that nobody will feel the need to bully any animals or pedophiles. Isn’t that about the same as what has been said by the School District about this hideous book?

  • Kenneth L Wells says:

    SEL is a Trojan horse for grooming. Go to the CASEL website, CASEL is the parent company pushing SEL. It doesn’t take much digging before Woke terminology and pseudo-academic jargon pops up.

  • Carol Allums says:

    I wrote the superintendent. I am appalled. I am so glad my kids were in school before the system went to pot. Thanks, Joel, for keeping us up to speed.

  • bert says:

    I admire the parent’s fierce defence of their innocent children constantly bombarded with woke ideology happening in our public schools. But…at what point will you quit the madness and protect your children from further harm? Withdraw her from the ASD? Get her out of their clutches!
    Our tax dollars are paying for this nonsense. We all have a say in the goings-on in our schools regardless of whether we have children enrolled. Keep speaking out but for God’s sake, until the district reorients back to authentic beauty, truth and goodness why would we sacrifice our children to them?

  • Theresa says:

    I am so incredibly heartbroken by how things are going in society these days. What’s good is bad, and what’s bad is good. I’ve noticed that when you take God out of the picture, it’s a free for all. I agree with Carol, thank GOD my child isn’t in the school system anymore; I would be enraged!

  • Concerned Mom of Three says:

    A similar situation happened to me and my daughter before the pandemic, she went to the German Immersion school in town Rilke Schule. She was in first grade. I knew it was wrong and addressed it with the Principal, they dismissed me and the issue. Afterward they didn’t want to let me in the classroom and wouldn’t inform me when the substitute who presented the material (who was also transitioning from a man to a woman) was teaching because it would violate other students privacy rights. And pulling my child out of the classroom was deemed too disruptive. I’ve always wanted to address the issue further but never knew whom to go to. I was in complete shock with this situation, this is happening more than parents know, there is no doubt there is an agenda to indoctrinate our children to accept and/or become LGBTQ+. Ultimately we made the decision to pull our child out of ASD and homeschooled during the pandemic. This year we have enrolled with a Christian school. Parents need to stand together and remind the school district it is paid for by their tax paying dollars.

    • Jen says:

      Just make sure the christian school doesn’t hold a democrat ideology or a religious worldview.

  • Hmm says:

    To Kill A Mockingbird is on the banned books list, but this one is appropriate for school? I don’t get it.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    I’m now officially declaring myself an outsider that did 180 turn away from the sodom and Gomorrah disgust.!
    I refuse to look back and have any compassion. One last thought, rot!!!

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    The Anchorage school system used to be among the best in the 60s and 70s, now it is among the worst in the country. The left took it over and parents let it happen because they either trusted the institution or were too lazy to be involved. If conservative parents still have their kids in ASD they will reap the whirlwind and will have no one to blame but themselves.

  • MPJ says:

    I’m not an Anchorage resident but would encourage any and all conservative mothers that care for their children and what these leftists are trying to brainwash them with in our schools to join Moms for Liberty and train yourself to take on the leftist machine head on. It is about taking the fight door to door in a grassroots movement and also taking over school boards to redirect the money to real education and not indoctrination. Moms for Liberty are having a real impact nationwide and are willing to teach you the model of how to beat the leftists at their own game. Florida just reclaimed control over 3 major school districts due to moms that were fed up and ignored all the insults hurled at them for standing up for their children. Put on the armor of God to deflect all the arrows and make the fight about policy, not name calling. They have no answers to policy because theirs is a failure!

  • Greg B. says:

    I am a retired educator who spent 31 years with the state of Alaska with the last 22 being in the Anchorage School District. I have spoken up about the Critical Race Theory adoption last year, but didn’t realize the extent of the gender/sexual agenda had crept into the curriculum. If I was a parent of a school-age child, I would have no choice but to home school or send him/her to a private school. I have still have a bit of fight left in me and will keep contacting the school board as well as the state of Alaska powers that be.

  • Greg says:

    I am a retired educator who spent 31 years with the state of Alaska with the last 22 being in the Anchorage School District. I have spoken up about the Critical Race Theory adoption last year, but didn’t realize the extent of the gender/sexual agenda had crept into the curriculum. If I was a parent of a school-age child, I would have no choice but to home school or send him/her to a private school. I have still have a bit of fight left in me and will keep contacting the school board as well as the state of Alaska powers that be.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    If someone outside of the school read this book to your children – you would call the police.
    Call the police and press charged – hire an attorney if yiu can afford it.
    This is the grooming to normalize homosexuality, transgenderism, bestiality, and adult / child sexual relations.
    Call the police and accuse the reacher and principal of sexually grooming your child.

  • she/him says:

    Jen, you seem to think that there is such thing as neutrality in the world of ideas and religion. there is not, we are rational beings and we think about things; we think about what is good and bad, right and wrong. These are, inasmuch as they adhere to a theological ideology, religious questions and we can’t escape the fact that man is fundamentally a religious being. Even the political view that religion ought to stay out of government is, at its root, theological because it points to a view of the world, a concept of goodness. All politics stems from theology due to the nature of man and the hierarchy that commands his intellect. No man can hold a political stance that is not backed by a theological principle that ultimately finds its basis in religion. Additionally, no religion is void of some form of theology, and ultimately every political stance is reflective of a corresponding theological belief. For example, you cannot claim a social justice stance divorced from the theological principle that life is sacred and human dignity is worth fighting for. That being said, I say that regardless of the good intentions a government might have in its separation of church and state, what will ultimately end up happening is that the government will use the word “church” to discriminate against forms of traditional organized religion while still supporting and promoting other religious ideologies inadvertently. This can be seen playing out in our country today in the case of abortion and transgender issues.