The FCPS Online Library Search Tool and What We Found on Gender Identity

July 27, 2022

As mentioned in the newsletter and on this website the FCPS has an effective tool for researching what books and materials are available in your child’s school library. It facilitates searches on an individual school, a group of schools, or all schools in the county. Before we posted any information on how to use this tool we wanted to test it and identify how robust it was and whether it required any special instructions to use it effectively.

Since the topic of teaching gender identity in early elementary school classrooms has been such an important and divisive topic for parents and the community this year as the new COMAR standards were introduced we started with a search on elementary school libraries. We used a wide variety of topics and book titles including gender identity.

Note: There are quite a few books on gender identity in the county’s school libraries and many are designed for Middle and High school students. For this initial test on Frederick County’s elementary schools, we focused on books that were clearly designed for young children.

What We Found in the Elementary School Libraries
General Learning:

We searched and found a lot of good general education books in many of the school libraries for early education including the following:

A full array of Dr. Seuss books, a wide variety of great books on counting and the alphabet in nearly all elementary schools, Peter Rabbit books on counting and the alphabet, Charlotte’s Web, Curious George books, The Wind in the Willows, and books on the U.S. Constitution. (Interestingly some of the books on the U.S. Constitution did not mention the Bill of Rights, which seems like a significant omission, and at least one came with a publisher’s warning on the content.)

Gender Identity:
We searched the category of gender and identified a number of books in the elementary school’s libraries on gender identity that are meant for early grades, including Pre K.  The list below is not the entire list of books, just some we found to be the most explicit and ones we felt parents should know about. We do not know how they are being used or who has checked them out, but the fact that they are in the school libraries indicates that someone in the FCPS decided they were useful. It also indicates a gap in what has been communicated to parents in meetings regarding what information is already available for use in early elementary schools on gender identity.

The audience designations (Pre K, juvenile, etc.) are assumed to be that of the publisher, not the FCPS.

  • Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship.
    Audience: Preschool, Juvenile

    Elementary school libraries with this book:
    Blue Herron Elementary
    Butterfly Ridge Elementary
    Centerville Elementary
    Monocacy Elementary
    Oakdale Elementary
    Sugarloaf Elementary
    Twin Ridge
    Urbana Elementary
    Valley Elementary
    Wolfsville Elementary

  • Who Are you? A kids guide to gender identity
    Audience: Juvenile, Primary

    Elementary school libraries with this book:
    Butterfly Ridge Elementary
    Sugarloaf Elementary
    Twin Ridge Elementary
    Urbana Elementary
    Whittier Elementary

  • It feels Good to be yourself: a book about gender identity
    Audience: Juvenile

    Elementary school libraries with this book:
    Bleu Herron Elementary
    Middletown Elementary
    Oakdale Elementary
    Orchard Grove Elementary
    Rock Creek Elementary
    Urbana Elementary
    Walkersville Elementary

  • They She He Me: free to be!
    Audience: Juvenile, Primary
    School: Middletown Elementary
  • A house for everyone: a story to help children learn about gender identity and gender expression. 
    Audience: Pre K, juvenile
    School: Rock Creek Elementary

  • Gender Queer
    Audience: Juvenile
    This book is available for downloading. It is also available in hardcopy in the Linganore and Urbana High School libraries. It’s mentioned here not because of the subject matter but because of the way the content and message is communicated. The book is presented as a memoir in comic book form and contains some graphic content that parents should be aware of, regardless of the age of the student. 

As always, it is a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher and school administration about the use of any of these books.

Books are available in hardcopy, downloadable/electronic versions, or both. Hardcopy books are not available in all libraries. At this point we do not yet know if the downloadable/electronic versions of books are available to all students in the FCPS but we have asked for clarification.

Regarding Middle and High Schools

We will be posting information for parents in early August on books that parents from other Maryland counties like Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel have told us they wished they had known about.

Note: We work with groups similar to Transparency in Education in other counties, particularly Montgomery County, to share information that can help us improve transparency. 

Instructions on How To Access and Use the Library Search Tool

Note: another tab that is useful is the Media Specialist tab, which can be used to find the Media Specialists that oversee the library and materials at each school, along with their email and phone numbers.

There are basically two ways to conduct a search:

  1. By individual school. This can be done under School Search where you can choose a specific school and search by book or, if you use the advanced feature, you can search by author and/or key word.
  2. Search all schools. This allows you to use the LS2PAC to search all schools using a book’s title, author or a category such as math, gender or history. A category search will take you to a list of books for that category and show you what school libraries offer those books. We found this to be a more useful search method.

When clicking on the Details button on the left side of the page you will see other information like user reviews. Also, on any book if you click on the book title the number of times the book was checked out for reading is available. 

Please feel free to contact Transparency in Education using the email on the website  or through the Contact Us drop down, and sign up for the Transparency newsletter to receive regular updates designed to improve transparency.