Right-wing YouTuber Steven Crowder, who has accused the left of attempting to groom children by introducing them to LGBTQ themes, recently announced the release of Beautiful Differences, a children’s book that he says shares “the foundational truth that boys are boys and girls are girls.” The book highlights the key position of anti-trans rhetoric in contemporary conservative discourse, a broader trend that has fueled recent book bans and anti-LGBTQ educational policies.
Crowder claims that the book is apolitical, a departure from a reputation built as a conservative commentator and Fox News employee. He has been vocal about the supposed threats of LGBTQ inclusion, contributing to the false accusations that LGBTQ people seek to indoctrinate young people. He has also pushed a misogynistic perspective, stating that only men can become “geniuses” and disparaging men who defer to women.
Beautiful Differences was published by Brave Books, which brands itself as “the antidote to woke culture lies” by providing conservative messaging for children. The company’s offerings include books by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, election denier Dinesh D’Souza, Fox News anchor Julie Banderas, and former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn. Publications also include right-wing influencer Ashley St.Clair's Elephants are not Birds, a book about how “boys are not girls,” and As You Grow by Kirk Cameron, which was recently denied a reading at The Rochambeau Public Library in Providence, Rhode Island because it did not align with the library's “queer-friendly” ethos.
Children’s books have been published by politicians and media figures for decades, often distilling primary concerns of a political movement under the guise of simplifying a complex issue so that a child could understand it. Former Fox host Bill O’Reilly, Fox host Ainsley Earhardt, conservative personality Rachel Campos Duffy, former first lady Lynne Cheney, and Charlotte Pence, daughter of former Vice President Mike Pence, have published children’s books on a range of issues. In the last few years, some conservative children’s books have reflected the rise of Trumpism without attempting to hide political motivations.
In addition to Elephants are not Birds, Beautiful Differences is joining the company of Johnny the Walrus, an anti-trans children’s book written by The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. Like the aforementioned conservative children’s books, these texts reflect a growing right-wing concern: transgender issues. While right-wing media and political figures have campaigned against teaching and including LGBTQ topics by absurdly categorizing such efforts as “grooming,” these new books bring the anti-trans political movement itself to a young demographic.
Conservative children’s book authors seem confident that their own educational projects do not meet the criteria for grooming children “into an ideological system,” although they handle the theme of gender in a way that promotes a conservative, and specifically anti-trans, worldview. Crowder's statement that his book “is not about politics” may be an attempt to avoid accusations of hypocrisy and the claim that right-wing figures are themselves intent on influencing children, but Beautiful Differences is a clear response to right-wing concerns over LGBTQ inclusion and distills a contemporary conservative trend — anti-trans rhetoric — for a young audience.