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School Cancels Book Reading Meant to Support Transgendered Students After Group Threatens Lawsuit

School Cancels Reading of Book Meant to Support Transgendered Students After Group Threatens Lawsuit

An elementary school in Wisconsin that intended to read the book I Am Jazz in support of its transgendered students made the decision to shelf the reading after a group threatened to sue the district.

The decision is now drawing national attention.

I Am Jazz is a children’s book based on the life of Jazz Jennings, a 15-year-old activist and reality TV star who has lived as a girl since the age of five. The book aims to explain gender identity to children to inspire support and acceptance for transgendered peers.

After The Mount Horeb Primary Center announced its plans to read the book to its students and gave parents time to express concern, it received a letter from Florida-based group the Liberty Counsel, which threatened to sue the school “on behalf of ‘concerned parents’ who did not want their children reading the book,” TIME said.

The letter, sent from Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast, said that "If harm results to children, including gender confusion, violations of restroom privacy, or other harms, all options will be explored, including a federal lawsuit against teachers and staff in their official and individual capacities for violation of parental rights,” according to the Windy City Media Group.

The school said its decision to post-pone the reading is so that the Board of Education can review the matter and make a decision from there.

This is just the latest bout of national news stemming from the treatment of young transgendered children in America’s schools. 

Earlier this month, the Department of Education made a decision on an Illinois district banning a transgendered female student from using the boy’s locker room. Though the district denied the student, referred to as Student A, from using the girl’s locker rooms and stood by its decision, the DOE ruled after an extensive investigation that the school must allow access.

Though the decision was applicable only to the Illinois school district, the ruling sent a message to schools everywhere about expectations when dealing with transgendered students.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

11/30/2015

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