If Jake from State Farm should call...

A hundred years ago, George Mecherle perceived that his neighbors in rural Illinois were paying too much for insurance, so he started a company to sell car insurance to farmers.  An early innovation of his was offering better rates for those who didn't drink and drive.  Today, his company, State Farm Mutual Insurance Company, is the largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S with 57,000 employees.  But I expect that George, were he still alive, might be frowning at State Farm's woke management team shooting themselves in the corporate foot last week.

Today, State Farm generates close to eighty billion dollars in annual revenues, thanks to its 18,000 captive agents, who can sell only State Farm products.  Recently, State Farm felt moved to enhance its diversity and inclusion image by enlisting its captive agents in distributing free books for young children to local schools and libraries.

There does appear to be a low level of children's literacy in this country, especially in some minority communities.  So did State Farm include these popular children's books of 2021? 

  • Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball
  • Becoming Muhammad Ali
  • All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

No!  Instead, State Farm opted to donate books regarding transgenderism and gender fluidity to encourage what State Farm described as "challenging, empowering, and important conversations" with children as young as age five.  These books included:

  • A Kids Book About Being Transgender
  • A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary

In both books, children who claim to be transgender use a variety of pronouns to identify themselves and allege that their gender is what they say it is.  As one transgender youth in A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary put it, "[w]hen you're born, a doctor looks at you and says, 'It's a boy!' Or 'It's a girl!'  But gender isn't that simple.  You see, when I was born, the doctor said, 'It's a boy!'  But this wasn't true."

Rather than read about minority heroes overcoming daunting challenges, the leadership at State Farm apparently felt that it's more important that children learn about alternate gender identities and exploring a transgender identity.

Within a few hours after the book distribution scheme was leaked, apparently by a State Farm employee, their captive agents heard from hundreds of customers, who either threatened to cancel their State Farm policies or who did cancel their policies.

After the State Farm CEO reportedly was contacted by more than 2,000 irate State Farm agents, the company announced that it would be suspending its plan to distribute the offending books.

"We no longer support the program allowing for distribution of books in schools," a State Farm spokesperson said.  "We will continue to explore how we can support organizations that provide tools and resources that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion. "

This rather tepid news release contained no apology or promise that no similar effort to promote transgenderism to kids is forthcoming.  It further hints that State Farm might still look for other ways to stimulate "challenging, empowering and important conversations."  It failed to promise that these efforts would not involve the sexualization of children.

So if Jake from State Farm shows up on your Caller ID, don't let any youngsters answer the phone.

Tom Harvey recently retired from the business faculty of a Midwestern university.  His prior experience included being an executive in the insurance industry. twharvey@columbus.rr.com

Image: State Farm.

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