Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wisconsin: Supporters Gather for Reading of "I Am Jazz" to Protest School District's Cancellation of Trans-Inclusive Lesson Plan

There is this community in Wisconsin called Mount Horeb. It has about 7,000 people in it and it's about a half-hour away from Madison, WI. About a month ago, parents received notice from administrators at the Mount Horeb Primary Center that there would be a discussion about the book "I Am Jazz." This was in response to an unidentified 6-year-old student who had recently transitioned from male to female. The school wanted to provide this material in order to assist the girl's classmates to better understand things.

Of course, the culture warriors freaked out. Somebody contacted the Liberty Counsel, who demanded a stop to this planned lesson with a threat of a lawsuit. Liberty Counsel said that the book violated the constitutional rights of conservative parents "to direct the upbringing of their children." Also, it apparently violates the rights of conservatives to refer to this trans kid as a girl:
“A mandatory requirement that other students call a boy ‘her’ and ‘she’ infringes upon the other students’ rights to tell the truth, in accordance with their religious convictions, and reality,” the group wrote in a letter to the School Board.
The School Board canceled the lesson in response to Liberty Counsel's legal threats.

Meanwhile, a group of 600 people gathered at Mount Horeb's public library to show support for this girl and to hear a reading of "I Am Jazz" by co-author Jessica Herthel:
The centerpiece of the library program was the reading of “I Am Jazz” by its co-author Jessica Herthel, who flew in from California to support the family. As a straight parent, Herthel said she wrote her book with Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in a TLC reality show, in part because she felt there were not enough resources for parents like her to teach their children about acceptance. 

She said she was overwhelmed by the community response in Mount Horeb. 

“I think it’s a barometer of where we’re at as a society,” she said in an interview. “I think we’re more ready to hear about this issue from a child’s perspective, because we know a child isn’t making a political statement or rebelling against society. Kids don’t know not to tell the truth, and we’re getting more comfortable with that idea.” 

Herthel said she was “disheartened at first but not surprised” when she heard that the reading at the school had been cancelled. She said she’s aware some see the book as inappropriate for young children. 

“When people take the time to read the book, they realize that ‘I Am Jazz’ is about identity — who you are. Not sex — who you are attracted to. And the book’s message of ‘Be who you are, no matter what’ applies to all children,” Herthel said.
200 supporters gathered in front of the Mount Horeb High School to read from "I Am Jazz" earlier this morning.

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