A Kids YouTuber Uses They/Them Pronouns. Some Parents Just Found Out — And Lost Their Minds

Lifestyle

For as long as Jules Hoffman can remember, they’ve been surrounded by music. 

After growing up with musical grandparents and a piano-playing father, Hoffman says they’ve always felt like music was a calling. But it wasn’t until their sister had children, three kids Hoffman lovingly refers to as niblings — the gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews — that they discovered a love for creating songs for kids

“I really just wanted to write songs to help remind them that they’re going to be loved no matter what,” Hoffman says. 

This experience encouraged them to apply for a job co-teaching a children’s music class. But almost five years into the gig, Hoffman is now a co-star on one of the biggest independent children’s programs online — and the center of a major backlash over LGBTQ-friendly content in education. 

@julessingsforlittles

Everytime I try to make a video I end up like this… These conversations we are having as a collective are impotant. Fact: they will save lives. They will make the future better for the younger generation. I found out just a few days after a major surgery what was going on… I had no idea the scale or scope of what was happening but I knew I needed to speak up. Right now, I can’t move like myself, I can’t be here in all the ways I want to show up to this convo. The stress of the week has me physically sick 🤒 during the most important recovery time for me and my body. I promise I will get to all of your loving messages as soon as I can. Thank you for holding me this week. For loving me. Showing up for me. I know the love is louder than the hate, cause y’all proved it. What can we do now? We keep protecting, and showing up for our LGBTQ friends, family, youth, children, everybody. Everybody deserves to feel loved and supported. Respect and love for all humans. I am going to rest a little more now. Thank you 🙏 #lovewins #rest #lgbt #lgbtq #lgbtqia #support #julestok #julessingsforlittles #vulnerable #itsoktocry

♬ original sound – julessingsforlittles

Hoffman is part of Songs For Littles, a YouTube Channel helmed by teacher and cofounder Rachel Griffin Accurso. But you might know her as Ms. Rachel, the content creator who’s become a staple on parenting TikTok and YouTube. Songs For Littles started as an in-person class created by Accurso. But thanks to a growing number of students, and a desire to reach more children, the group began to film their lessons and put them on YouTube. And by 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic stranded parents without childcare and the desperate need to entertain their kids, Songs For Littles became a phenomenon. Since the channel was created, its educational music videos have drawn more than 3.12 million subscribers on YouTube, 1 billion views, and a dedicated fan base of grateful parents. In January, a trend where parents played the Ms. Rachel song “Icky Sticky Bubblegum” and filmed their babies’ delighted reactions went viral, with over almost 30,000 videos and 38.3 million views. But the Songs For Littles popularity hasn’t been big enough to protect Hoffman, who is nonbinary, from a furious wave of blowback over their identity. 

Two weeks ago, a TikTok user accused Songs For Littles of including a lesson about pronouns on the show, something they consider inappropriate for kids. “When Miss Rachel introduces they/them/their pronouns so you have to stop watching her,” the video says. The caption reads “Can’t we just have a nonpolitical kids’ show?” Several comments underneath echoed the original poster’s concern. “I haven’t really seen it in her videos yet, but if it ever happens my daughter will be finding a new show,” one comment reads. 

There was a reason the commenter couldn’t find it — Songs For Littles doesn’t have a lesson teaching kids about pronouns. On the channel, Jules, and all other guests, are referred to by their first names. So the main gripe seems to be centered on Hoffman’s personal TikToks explaining their pronouns and short lessons about the LGBTQ community. On their page @julessingsforlittles, Hoffman sings original songs and does puppetry, but considers the page, which has 154 thousand followers, for adults. 

Both Hoffman and Accurso faced major backlash on parenting TikTok, with thousands of comments trying (and failing) to get the hashtag #cancelmsrachel trending, and others saying their children would no longer be allowed to watch the YouTube channel. Accurso announced she would be taking a break from TikTok, saying “Hurtful videos and comments, no matter how much attention they get, will not bring you what you want. Only love can do that.” (Accurso did not respond to Rolling Stone’s requests for comment.)

Hoffman tells Rolling Stone they’ve used they/them pronouns since 2018, which have been readily available on their social media and the official Songs For Littles website. But they attribute the most recent backlash to the current antagonistic rhetoric towards the LGBTQ community. In states like Texas and Florida, angry parents have successfully lobbied for books about LGBTQ people, history, and education to be removed from school libraries. And Tennessee recently became the first state to pass restrictions on public drag shows under the guise of children’s safety. 

“There’s this climate around LGBTQ and trans youth right now,” Hoffman tells Rolling Stone. “There’s legislation being written up, horrible bills being created and some being passed. I’m just thinking about all of the research that has been done that shows our LGBTQ and trans youth are at a higher risk of suicide. And everything that they need is being taken from them. It’s costing us the lives of loving children who just want to be seen and accepted.” 

@julessingsforlittles

I didn’t know how to respond to everything that is going on. I want to address the 🐘 in the room in the best way I know how- by teaching kids about love and acceptance. Kids around us, they are absorbing and 👀 ing to us for our responses, how we react, how we treat others. They remember what we say and what we believe and it can either bring them closer to us, to share their truest selves with us or push them away. Take care of yourselves and each other. Reach down deep inside you when things get icky, take some deep breaths, sure- be a crabby 🦀 for a bit, remember it’s ok to cry and then respond with ❤️ and kindness. Let’s do this fam 💪 #itsoktocry #lovewins #lgbtq #love #julestok #julessingsforlittles #blessed #songsforlittles @msrachelforlittles

♬ original sound – julessingsforlittles

In the past two weeks, Hoffman’s comments have been filled with parents thanking them for their songs. And on TikTok, hundreds of parents and users have made videos lambasting conservative parents and telling Hoffman they’ll stand by their side. 

“We love and support you, “says one video that’s been viewed 15 thousand times. “Please carry on for your littles.”

“What rock are you living under to teach your kids it’s okay to judge Jules because of [their] identity?” reads another

“We love [Ms. Rachel and Jules] in this household,” wrote another TikTok mom. “Always and forever.”

While it’s been emotional to be the target of such hostility, Hoffman says the overwhelming support has proven that parents are already focused on doing the work of teaching their children to be inclusive. 

“I feel loved and supported by my team. So I have to remind myself ‘Okay, I’m being attacked right now, but who is this for? Where’s the lesson? What do we want [kids] to see?’” Hoffman says. “So I try not to get caught up in the drama because it’s not about me. It’s actually about the next generation, and even the adults that are watching, finally see themselves in media in a way that is representative.”

Trending

For Hoffman, being an educator isn’t just about teaching the next generation how to talk and sing and read. It’s about preserving the love and acceptance they think all kids have — one society can rob them of by being too focused on labels. 

“I pop up on the screen. And the kids get it. They’re not scared. They’re just like, ‘Cool. There’s another human just like me,’’ Hoffman says. “I don’t think people realize how much kids absorb and are looking at us and are taking cues from us. So how we react and respond tells them everything they need to know. I’m just trying to be really authentic and true to who I am. And that’s not something that I want to hide.”

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

How Cynet Makes MSPs Rich & Their Clients Secure
Normani’s Fifth Harmony Groupmates Congratulate Her on Debut Album
SpaceX, Elon Musk Hit With New Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Firings
Wendy Stuart Presents TriVersity Talk Wednesday, June 19th, 2024 7 PM ET With Featured Guest Marizol Leyva
Luxury homes on these beaches are losing value fast, as effects of climate change hit hard