Schools across the United States are urging students to read books about trans-identified children as part of an annual campaign promoted by a leading activist group to “support transgender and non-binary youth.”
Launched by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT activist organization, schools nationwide held the annual Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings on Thursday in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians.
The event was first conceived after what the HRC characterized as “a national anti-LGBTQ hate group [bullying] a young transgender girl in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin” and “her community rallied behind her by hosting a community reading of I am Jazz by transgender advocate Jazz Jennings.”
Liberty Counsel, the religious liberty law firm that was derided by the Human Rights Campaign as a “national anti-LGBTQ hate group,” wrote a letter to the president of Mt. Horeb Area School District Board of Education in 2015, expressing opposition to plans to read the book, I am Jazz, to first-grade students. The law firm threatened to file “a federal lawsuit against teachers and staff in their official and individual capacities for violation of parental rights” if the school went ahead with the reading.
In response to the threat to take legal action, the Mt. Horeb Area School District canceled plans to read the semi-autobiographical children’s book to first graders. However, a Mt. Horeb parent presented the book reading at a public library in the village in a show of support for a trans-identified student in the district.
Shortly thereafter, the effort led to similar events across the U.S., which took place at schools and other community locations, such as libraries and places of worship, and has since become an annual affair. The stated purpose of the Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings is to “support transgender and non-binary youth.”
The Human Rights Campaign promotes I am Jazz as the primary reading material for the day, although it offers other suggested titles as well. The advocacy organization has put together a lesson plan, which encourages teachers to tell elementary school students that “gender is a spectrum, not a binary, and that we all express ourselves in many different ways along that spectrum.” Students are also taught “about differences and being an ally.”
Along with I am Jazz, the Human Rights Campaign has put together lesson plans for other books included on the advocacy organization’s list of suggested reading material for the Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings. The descriptions for one of those books, CALVIN: Time To Be Me! reads: “Calvin has always been a boy, even if the world sees him as a girl. He knows who he is in his heart and in his mind, but he hasn’t yet told his family. Finally, he can wait no longer.”
The Human Rights Campaign lists CALVIN: Time To Be Me! as an ideal resource for students in kindergarten through second grade. The lesson plan for the book calls on teachers to use the “Gender Snowperson” when introducing the concepts of gender identity to their students, a concept whose lesson plan indicates that it is designed for students in the third through eighth grade. In other words, the Gender Snowperson is designed for students older than the target audience for CALVIN: Time To Be Me!
Lesson plans for CALVIN: Time To Be Me! describes the Gender Snowperson as “a simple tool to break down the concepts of how you feel and know yourself to be (gender identity), who you love (sexual orientation), boy/girl assigned at birth (sex assigned at birth) and gender expression.”
The lesson plan insists that “many people do not realize that gender identity and sexual orientation are two very different concepts and that all of us have both a gender identity and sexual orientation,” adding: “there are lots of different ways to be a boy, girl, both or neither.”
Conservative groups expressed concern about promoting LGBT activism and ideology to school children, contending that parents are the best people to teach their children about such topics. Jeff Johnson, a culture and policy analyst at Focus on the Family, first wrote about the Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings in 2019.
“Sadly, this event is part of a much larger trend in public education, as children are taught confusing messages about gender and sexuality in classrooms across the nation,” he said. “These lessons are in direct opposition to objective, scientific reality — and to most parents’ beliefs and values.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest public school district in the United States, announced last week that it was partaking in the National Day of School & Community Readings to “affirm transgender & non-binary youth.” The event, available for viewing on Zoom, was hosted by Hooper Avenue Elementary School’s Rainbow Club.
“Join Human Relations, Diversity & Equity (HRDE) and schools across the district for a nationwide virtual community reading about gender, diversity & inclusion,” a promotion for the event states. “Teachers, Zoom in with your class for the story, discussion, and an optional art activity. We recommend paper and basic supplies for the activity.”
While the Los Angeles school district did not state which age group the discussion was geared toward, the fact that Hooper Avenue Elementary School is taking part suggests that young students will be participating. The book at the center of this particular discussion, From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, is designed for students in kindergarten through third grade.
The Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings comes as parents across the U.S. have raised concerns that school officials are encouraging gender fluidity in children who might be confused or have questions surrounding their biological gender. Last year, a parent in Leon County, Florida, sued the school system for working to prevent her from finding out that the school had begun to refer to her daughter by using “they/them” pronouns and allowed the child to sleep in the same quarters as her male classmates on a school field trip.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org