I am Jazz, the book by transgender TV personality Jazz Jennings made headlines last week for both a controversy and a story of hope. In an AP report, a southern Wisconsin elementary school cancelled a planned reading of the book written by Jazz after receiving a threat of a lawsuit. Last week, the principal of Mount Horeb Primary Center sent a letter to parents saying the book would be read and discussed because the school has a student who identifies as a girl but was born with male anatomy.
“The goal is to protect all students from bullying so they can learn together in a safe environment.”
The Liberty Counsel Group of Florida threatened to sue the school, sighting hey were contacted by concerned parents. In a letter to the school district, the group contended that reading the book would violate parental rights. The Capital Times reports the district will give the Board of Education the opportunity to address the situation.
In a release made by the district they stated, “As we seek to address the needs of the individual student, we will be mindful of the needs of other students and families. Families whose children may be affected will be notified of future actions, and the goal is to protect all students from bullying so they can learn together in a safe environment.”
On a more positive note the Gay Star News has a heartwarming story about a 4 year old transgender girl named Ellie who was inspired and given hope by the I am Jazz book. In the story her parents Ron and Vanessa did the incredible; not only did they not hide what was going on with their daughter, but they built a new community consciousness around their child.
‘We have a happy, silly, strong-willed, outgoing daughter. Before her transition, she was mostly quiet, shy, sometimes angry and certainly not outgoing.”
Vanessa and Ron wrote a letter to hundreds of people in their community: Ellie’s teachers, the principal, and everyone who would touch her life. They explained her story in detail and provided eight different resources for people to turn to for further information. ‘We have a happy, silly, strong-willed, outgoing daughter. Before her transition, she was mostly quiet, shy, sometimes angry and certainly not outgoing.” stated the parents.
If a friend of Ellie’s asked a question, they answered it and then sent a copy of their letter to the child’s parents. Regarding the book I am Jazz the parents stated, “‘She tells people she is transgender. We kept this specific word from her initially but in reading I Am Jazz, she heard it once and immediately took it on as her own.”
Wow! This is a great example of the right way to handle the transgender issue in schools and the wrong way. In Wisconsin we have a group of parents along with a known anti LGBT group threatening to sue over reading a book about a transgender kid. Now if we were to replace the word transgender with African Americans, Italians or Christians everyone would be up in arms over how hateful these people are. But because it is transgender it goes by the wayside. The way I see it there is no difference. It goes to show you how hurtful some people are to our community. On the other hand I found the article about Ellie in Gay Star News to be truly heartwarming. It is the perfect example of what should and could have happened in Wisconsin. I suggest you check out Ellie’s story. I commend Jazz for her book and her efforts to help people like herself.