A council has come under fire after it replaced its library story-time telling bear with a gender-neutral rainbow alien that is neither female nor male, after campaigners incorrectly claimed the alien was trans and the policy was an effort to push ‘gender ideology’.
Hertfordshire Council says Tala the Storyteller is a ‘bright, vibrant creature’ that will capture the imagination of toddlers and babies, and confirmed they will be referred to using they/them pronouns.
Tala is a new mascot for a series aimed at babies and toddlers and will also take over from Bookstart Bear at reading events for kids at the county’s 46 libraries. Bookstart Bear is being withdrawn nationally, according to the council.
The character is ‘the star of Hertfordshire libraries’ new promotion My Firsts to inspire families with babies and young children to visit the library regularly,’ according to a council spokesperson.
Tala, a colourful cartoon-like character, will take over from Bookstart Bear at Rhyme Time – a story-telling event at local libraries aimed at babies and young children up to the age of five-years-old.
A picture of the alien also appears on personalised library cards for those under five on their first trip to a Hertfordshire library.
Reaction to the new character on libraries’ Facebook pages was positive, with parents describing the character as a ‘cutie’.
But high-profile campaigners on gender issues such as Maya Forstater have claimed the replacement of the bear is a ‘trans’ issue.