Why Are People Mad at This Preschool YouTuber?
At first glance, it is difficult to see what viewers could find wrong about Ms. Rachel’s TikTok and YouTube channels. The bubbly social media personality makes videos directed at toddlers and babies, frequently donning an eye-catching ensemble featuring overalls, a pink shirt, and a pink headband. With a broad smile on her face, Ms. Rachel acts out full 40-60 minute videos on YouTube Kids, giving children access to safe children’s content without comments or ads. In some videos, she can be seen singing songs like “Wheels on the Bus” or trying to engage kids with questions about upcoming holidays and events.
In some of Ms. Rachel’s videos, she teams up with singer-songwriter Jules Hoffman, who helps with the musical aspects of her channel. Hoffman is sometimes to referred as Ms. Rachel’s co-star and has mainly appeared in videos on Ms. Rachel’s YouTube channel. However, Jules also has a TikTok account where they show off their musical skills and even some ventriloquism with their songs, many of which feature messages of love and bravery.
However, toward the end of February 2023, Ms. Rachel started opening up about receiving hateful emails and later revealed she was taking a break from social media for her mental health. On March 2, Jules posted a video addressing the “elephant in the room,” and urged users to teach their kids love and kindness. So, why are two social media influencers who use their talents to create content for kids suddenly receiving such intense backlash that they’ve been forced to respond to it and even step back from social media?
Who is Ms. Rachel?
Ms. Rachel is the social media handle used by Rachel Griffin Accurso. If you were wondering why she posts videos directed at babies and toddlers, it’s because it’s kind of her specialty. Ms. Rachel is a real-life preschool teacher in New York City and has a Master’s degree in music education. She is also currently working on a second Master’s degree in early childhood education. However, the real why behind her work is her four-year-old son.
Accurso explained that her son had a speech delay, which inspired her to begin looking for ways to aid him. In the midst of it, she was hit with the idea to create an interactive and engaging show that emphasized encouraging speech in babies and toddlers. This is why her YouTube and TikTok videos are often very slow-paced with lots of enunciation and pronunciation, along with many sing-alongs and questions. The transition from teaching in a live classroom to filming videos in her one-bedroom apartment in New York City wasn’t easy, but she made it work.
There have been conflicting reports about how effective Ms. Rachel’s work actually is. Some parents and speech therapists have praised the videos for being speech-based, educational, and helping to expand vocabulary. However, there are concerns about whether the benefits of watching educational videos outweigh the drawbacks of exposing a child to screen time. There isn’t enough research to determine the answers to these questions yet. With nearly 5 million subscribers across YouTube and TikTok, though, Ms. Rachel must be doing something right.
Unfortunately, the recent “controversy” had nothing to do with the complex issue of young children and the impact of screen time.
Why is Ms. Rachel controversial?
The truth is, Ms. Rachel, isn’t actually “controversial.” She is simply a creator who has fallen victim to intolerance and bigotry. Ms. Rachel began receiving backlash early this year because of her work with Jules. As previously mentioned, Jules is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns … and that is essentially the full extent of the “controversy.” People who identify as “traditional” parents began commenting on Ms. Rachel’s videos and posting on TikTok that they could no longer continue following her because she included Jules in the videos. Many slammed her for introducing “they/them” pronouns to children and stated that Jules’ mere appearance was “enough” for them to turn on Ms. Rachel.
To be clear, parents were upset by Jules merely appearing in Ms. Rachel’s videos. It is not as if Ms. Rachel made her viewers sing and clap along to a pronouns song or posted a video dedicated to teaching babies about gender identity. She merely had Jules join her to sing some educational songs for her viewers. Meanwhile, even if viewers go over to Jules’ personal TikTok, @julessingsforlittles, they aren’t going to find much outright discussion of gender and sexuality. Jules merely displays they/them pronouns on their social media and the Songs for Littles website. That’s it. Additionally, Jules has been using they/them pronouns since 2018, but some conservatives only happened to uncover it recently, hence the sudden onslaught of backlash.
Ms. Rachel and Jules have not directly addressed the backlash. However, Ms. Rachel has since returned from her break and spoke about setting boundaries on social media. She also reiterated that she is here to serve children and their families each day, and wants to “share the love and kindness that we want to see reflected in the world.” Jules has also continued posting on social media and has thanked their followers for their support and acceptance. While a few conservative parents are trying to cancel Ms. Rachel and Jules, a lot more have spoken out in support of them.
Fortunately, despite the backlash, many parents are continuing to support Ms. Rachel and Jules—choosing to teach their kids love and acceptance instead of hate.
(featured image: TikTok)
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