The Mount Horeb Primary Center in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, canceled a scheduled reading of the popular I am Jazz book this week, a story involving a transgender child, after being threatened with a lawsuit by an organization known as a hate group.
New York Daily News reports that the elementary school planned to read the story to its students as a way to show how to respect the differences in children no matter what their gender identity is. A November 19 letter sent out to the parents of the school’s children stated,
“We believe all students deserve respect and support regardless of their gender identity and expression, and the best way to foster that respect and support is through educating students about the issue of being transgender.”
Yet shortly after the letter was sent out to parents, the religious activist group Liberty Counsel interfered and threatened the school district with a lawsuit. The group, which is described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, sent a letter of its own, accusing the school of violating parental constitutional rights.
The letter, addressed to Mary Seidl, the president of the Board of Education for the Mt. Horeb Area School District, also accuses the district of “inappropriate discussion of gender confusion and sexuality with primary school students.”
“First, as you may know, ‘Jazz’ Jennings is a male child ‘transgender’ activist, who has been permitted to undergo harmful gender reassignment drug therapy and hormone blockers, resulting in permanent physical changes to his body. The book is a false and misleading book.”
The school district backed down and pulled the scheduled reading, stating that there needs to be “the need for parents to be given the opportunity to consider and discuss information we provide to their children.”
The Florida-based Liberty Counsel indicated that “concerned parents” of some of the school’s children contacted them and asked them to intervene. The organization decided that the threat of a lawsuit would be the most effective choice in preventing the scheduled reading, despite the principal telling parents that their children had the option of skipping the reading.
This isn’t the first time that Liberty Counsel has been in the spotlight for its anti-LGBTQ efforts. Earlier this year, the organization showed their support for Kim Davis, the Kentucky-based clerk who refused to certify marriages between same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel stated that over 100,000 rallied for Davis in Peru, although it was later proven that the rally actually happened a year earlier, for different purposes.
Despite its claims of helping others, numerous people have suggested that the Liberty Counsel’s efforts have done much more harm than good. For instance, the organization allegedly wrote a letter to a group of depressed LGBT teens and told them that they’re sad because of their sins and their separation from God. Many people felt that the letter exacerbated the young teens’ problems.
In 2012, the Liberty Counsel publicly applauded The Boy Scouts of America when it stated that gay leaders and scout were not allowed in any Boy Scouts groups. The Liberty Counsel later stated that Boy Scouts’ decision “will continue to protect young boys from homosexual pressures and predators,” insinuating that gay leaders and scouts had the intention to hurt children.
Even though the elementary school canceling the reading, I am Jazz continues to be one of the best-selling transgender books of all time. According to broadcast journalist Barbara Walters,
“Jazz is a sensitive and courageous young woman. Her story is inspiring and important to read. By sharing her experiences and view she has added to our understanding and compassion for the transgender experience.”
[Photo Courtesy of Kimberly White/Getty Images]