Parents weren’t happy that a teacher shared a story about a transgender teen
A kindergarten teacher read her students a story that featured a transgender character and parents are not happy about it. Because teaching children about acceptance and empathy for all people at an early age is something some parents just can’t handle.
A teacher at Rocklin Academy Gateway read the book, I Am Jazz, to her class after one of her students, who happens to be transgender, brought it in. I Am Jazz is a story about a girl named Jazz Jennings, who is a transgender teen featured on a TLC reality show of the same name. One of the kindergartners wanted to share the book with her classmates during story time.
“I have a girl brain but a boy body,” the book’s main character says, “This is called transgender. I was born this way!”
The Sacramento Bee reports that angry parents contacted the school’s administration, and protested at a board meeting in June. Things got so contentious that the school had to hire a PR firm to help handle the fallout amid rumors that the discussion of the book eventually culminated in a ceremony in which the child who brought the book to school “came out” to the class in girl’s clothing.
The school denies that such a ceremony took place, and states the the child had been slowly transitioning throughout the school year and had already been incorporating girl’s clothing into her wardrobe.
A conservative advocacy group called “Capitol Resource Institute” run by Karen England, has publicly objected to to the fact that parents were not informed that the book would be read or such a discussion would take place.
The group has previously opposed same-sex marriage and a state law that allows transgender students to join schools’ athletic teams and use the locker and bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities as opposed to the sex on their birth certificates.
England told the Sacramento Bee, “The average parent doesn’t want to have this conversation in kindergarten, and it was forced upon them.”
The executive director of Rocklin Academy Family of Schools, Robin Stout, told the Bee many parents have supported the teacher.
Perhaps kindergarten may seem like an early age for such a discussion — but these students have a transgender classmate, which makes the subject matter even more pertinent. Teaching these kids that everyone in the class is equal and deserving of stories that represent their experience seems like a worthwhile lesson.
While the parents who are opposed to such subject matter are making the most waves, some parents agree that it’s a relevant issue, especially in 2017. Ankur Dhawan, who’s 5-year-old daughter is in the class, explained why it doesn’t bother him.
“This is a topic that is very pertinent to our times,” he told the Bee. “If I wanted to have this discussion with my child I don’t know of a mechanism that would work out better then this. The timing isn’t what I chose, but it is a decent way to bring it up.”
As you can probably imagine, none of the kids themselves seem to have a problem with either their transgender classmate or the book.
“A couple of girls complimented her on her dress,” Antoon said. “We were so proud of how the kids can handle this in a way that clearly the adults are having a hard time with.”